Proposed Legislation Overview
As part of our mission to furnish a dependable supply of safe, quality water delivered to our customers in an efficient, responsive manner CHWD tracks legislation that may have an impact on our ability to provide that service in an affordable manner. Recently, legislation was proposed that would implement new water conservation and drought resiliency requirements in California. The legislation, if enacted, would make numerous changes to the Water Code and have long-term implications for urban water suppliers throughout the state.
On April 7 the statewide drought emergency was ended through Executive Order B-40-17. At this time state agencies released a final water conservation plan that contained the state’s comprehensive framework for conserving water and preparing for future droughts. The Plan will be implemented through legislation, emergency rulemaking, and regular rulemaking.
Here is a summary of key elements in the proposed legislation, Plan, and Executive Order.
The proposed legislation and administrative regulations, announced on April 7 address several areas, including:
- Water Conservation Standards and Targets—providing the State Water Resources Control Board authority to expand upon existing water reduction targets of 20% by 2020. New long-term water consumption standards must be in place by 5-20-21.
- Water Shortage Contingency Planning—requiring more extensive analysis and planning for various mandated water consumption requirements due to potential future drought conditions
- Water Board Regulations—Water Waste Prohibitions and Monthly Reporting—establishing permanent prohibitions on water wasting and adding new monthly reporting requirements for agencies
- Water Loss Reduction Measures—implemented through legislation, Department of Water Resources (DWR) rule-making and Water Board establishment of performance standards by 2020
- End of Stress Tests—With the end of the drought, the 3-year stress test requirement will be rescinded, but more permanent requirements are addressed above in the second bullet item, Water Shortage Contingency Planning
- Rate Structures—The State Water Board is tasked with working with other state agencies and water suppliers to develop rate structures and other related measures to promote water conservation
Where Does CHWD Stand On This Proposed Legislation?
CHWD supports many of the goals set forth in the Administration’s proposal, such as the need for continued water waste prohibitions and long-term water-use efficiency. CHWD and other water agencies throughout the state are investing in programs, education and incentives to help their customers adopt sustainable practices and make changes that result in permanent water savings. CHWD customers can learn more about our water conservation programs by visiting http://chwd.org/our-water/drought-resources/
But we have concerns about the major thrust of the Administration’s proposal: That is, give the State Water Board unprecedented power to mandate water use reductions through statewide conservation targets that are likely to ignore unique local conditions (such as local hydrological conditions, local water rights and local investments to build water supplies). While woefully vague on many details, this proposal makes it clear that the State Water Board could make water use reductions more stringent over time without any legislative oversight and control. This proposal diminishes local control of your drinking water supply and essentially adds unfunded mandates to CHWD and local water agencies statewide.
By diluting local control to reflect unique local conditions and by forcing water suppliers to ration water even when local supplies are secure, this proposal would negatively impact our local economy and quality of life enjoyed by residents in our community.
Additionally, there are data tracking requirements included in this new legislation that would require additional expensive software and staff to operate the programs.
CHWD favors an approach – embodied in two bills authored by Assembly members Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), AB 1654 and AB 968 – that would enhance planning and preparation for future droughts to achieve the following goals:
- expand water storage capacity
- use recycled water and storm water capture
- increase operational and regulatory efficiency
- preserve the state Legislature’s oversight and control over long-term water use target setting
What can CHWD Customers Do?
CHWD customers can stay informed about this and other legislation that could affect their rates by visiting this page for the latest information. Additionally, you can contact your representatives at the Capitol and let them know you are concerned about the potential impacts of this proposed bill. Contact information for the State Assembly and Senate members that represent the CHWD service area is below: