State Water Resources Control Board Adopts Emergency Drought Regulation

Best Best & Krieger LLP

Best Best & Krieger LLP

Ramifications for Urban Water Suppliers and Non-Functional Turf

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) has adopted an emergency regulation (Regulation) requiring urban water suppliers to implement the demand reduction actions identified in their Water Shortage Contingency Plans (WSCP) for a stage two water shortage. This Regulation was adopted in response to Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order N-7-22.

Under the Regulation, which was adopted on May 24, urban water suppliers must implement all demand reduction actions included in their WSCP for a stage two water shortage by June 10. However, not all stage two response actions are required at this time, e.g., supply augmentation or operational changes. If an urban water supplier has not adopted a WSCP, the Regulation mandates that the supplier implement specific response actions, including:

  • Public information campaigns and outreach
  • Limiting landscape irrigation to two days per week
  • Prohibiting irrigation between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Banning wasteful and unreasonable uses as defined by State Board regulation

There are limited exceptions to the mandate, but one exception is that urban water suppliers are not required to implement new service moratoria, even if their WSCP includes that demand reduction measure. Additionally, a limited number of suppliers may implement the response actions required for suppliers without a WSCP, in lieu of stage two demand reduction measures, if the supplier meets the following criteria:

  • Can demonstrate a reliable water supply until September 30, 2023
  • Does not rely on the Colorado River, State Water Project or Central Valley Project for any of its water supplies and does not obtain more than 10% of its water from a critically overdrafted groundwater basin
  • Their average number of gallons per day for residential users reported for 2020 is below 55 gallons

The Regulation also bans the irrigation of non-functional turf at commercial, industrial and institutional properties with potable water, with an exception for certain low water use turf. Non-functional turf is solely ornamental and does not include turf used for recreation, sports, or civic or community events. A violation of the irrigation ban could result in fines of up to $500 per day.

Next Steps for Urban Water Suppliers
By June 1, 2022, urban water suppliers must submit a preliminary annual water supply and demand assessment to the Department of Water Resources (DWR).

By June 10, 2022, urban water suppliers must implement the WSCP stage two demand reduction actions, or the measures required by the State Board if the supplier has not adopted a WSCP or qualifies for the exemption.

By July 1, 2022, urban water suppliers must submit the final draft of the annual water supply and demand assessment to DWR via the WUEdata Portal.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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