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State Board Adopts Final Regulation on Mandated Urban Water Use Reductions

On May, 6, 2015, The State Water Resources Control Board adopted the final emergency regulation for implementing the required 25% statewide reduction in urban water use ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown.  State Board officials said the emergency regulation was needed to conserve water throughout California, especially if the drought drags on into subsequent years.

“This is the drought of the century, with greater impact than anything our parents and grandparents experienced, and we have to act accordingly,” Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board said in a statement released after the vote.

“Today we set a high but achievable bar, with the goal of stretching urban California’s water supply.  We have to face the reality that this drought may continue and prepare as if that’s the case,” Marcus continued. “ If it rains and snows next winter, we celebrate.  If the drought continues, we’ll be glad we took difficult but prudent action today.  It’s the responsible thing to do.”

The final regulation approved by the State Board changed little from the most recent iteration of the regulation that was released April 28. The regulation adopted today assigns urban water suppliers into 9 tiers of conservation mandates ranging from 4% to 36% based on residential per-capita daily water use (R-GPCD). The baseline for conservation usage is the same period in 2013 and the mandated reductions will be calculated cumulatively over the next seven months.

Urban water suppliers also must now report commercial, industrial and institutional water use, but may do so as an aggregate, rather than in separate categories.  The regulation now goes to Office of Administrative Law for approval. It will likely go into effect as soon as May 15.

The State Board first released a draft framework on April 7 and a revised draft package on April 18. Its formal emergency regulation package was released April 28.

Data on the March conservation targets and documents related to the regulation framework is available here.