EMWD Board urges end to statewide drought and emergency regulations

PERRIS – Eastern Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors has Governor Jerry Brown and the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) to declare an end the ongoing Drought State of Emergency and corresponding regulations.

EMWD’s Board of Directors approved by a 4-0 vote a resolution requesting an end to the statewide drought emergency status due to the response of customers and drastically improved statewide water supply and snowpack conditions.

“The time is right and we hope the Governor and the State Board will take the appropriate actions to let all Californians know that we are no longer in an emergency,” EMWD President David Slawson said. “EMWD customers – as well as those throughout our state – have heeded the call to action during this unprecedented time. It is now time for the state to do the same.”

As part of its resolution, EMWD supported shifting the state’s focus away from emergency regulatory efforts and toward the creation of statewide, long-term water use efficiency practices that recognize local water supply efforts and regional factors that drive water use practices.

The State Board will considered extending its emergency regulations Feb. 8, despite water supply conditions that indicate significantly above average rainfall and snowpack, reservoirs that are above historical averages and much of the state no longer experiencing the hydrological conditions that are indicative of drought conditions.

EMWD’s Board of Directors will meet Feb. 15, to discuss relaxing local water supply regulations. EMWD is currently in Stage 3c of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan, which suspends Tier 3 of its rate structure, meaning all water use over budget is charged at the highest price point.

EMWD has been proactive in working with the State Board and Governor’s office to advocate for regulations that recognize factors such as local water supplies, weather and housing density. The State Board’s initial regulations failed to account for these water use drivers, instead opting to take a blanket approach that unfairly penalized EMWD customers. The current regulations are based on a “stress test” approach. Water suppliers provided supply and demand information assuming three additional dry years. EMWD along with most of the water suppliers across the state could certify in June 2016 that supplies were adequate to meet demand. Supply conditions have improved significantly since then and emergency regulation is not required.

Precipitation in the northern Sierra is 217 percent of average as of Jan. 23, and the state is on track to have its wettest year on record. EMWD has also invested in local supplies, including groundwater desalination and recycled water that has helped prepare it for drought conditions. EMWD customers reduced usage by 18 percent from June 2015 through December 2016, when compared to 2013 figures.

“EMWD is committed to working on behalf of its customers and to serving as their collective voice with the state and its regulatory agencies,” Slawson said. “We sincerely appreciate the water use efficiency efforts our customers have taken during the drought and we will continue advocating for what is right on behalf of our customers.”

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