State water board rescinds mandatory conservation standards; reporting requirements and prohibition on water waste remain

SACRAMENTO – The state water resources control board rescinded the water supply “stress test” requirements and remaining mandatory conservation standards for urban water suppliers while keeping in place the water use reporting requirements and prohibitions against wasteful practices.

The action by state water board Executive Director Tom Howard was in response to Governor Jerry Brown’s announcement in early April ending the drought state of emergency and transitioning to a permanent framework for making water conservation a California way of life.

The governor’s April 7 executive order directs the state water board to lift the specific conservation provisions of its drought emergency regulations but to keep in place the temporary requirements for monthly water use reporting and prohibitions against wasteful water use practices, while the board works to develop permanent reporting and wasteful use regulations. The temporary requirements will remain in effective until Nov. 25, when the emergency regulation expires.

The current prohibitions against wasteful water use practices include outdoor watering during or within 48 hours after a rain event; hosing down a sidewalk instead of using a broom or a brush and overwatering a landscape to where water is running off onto the sidewalk or into the gutter.

The long-term conservation framework, also released April 7, includes recommendations to establish permanent water conservation standards and to improve agricultural and urban water management planning to better prepare for more frequent and severe droughts due to climate change. These actions will help achieve a top priority of the California Water Action Plan to improve long-term drought preparedness and “Make Conservation a California Way of Life.”

As part of the framework, the governor released proposed legislation to establish long-term water conservation measures and to improve planning for more frequent and severe droughts. Among other things, the proposed legislation requires the state water board, in consultation with the Department of Water Resources, to set long-term urban water use efficiency standards by May 20, 2021; includes a robust public participation process to provide the state water board and DWR with critical input from local agencies, tribal governments, nongovernmental organizations, the business sector, academics and others; requires urban water suppliers to plan for droughts lasting five or more years and establishes new drought planning and water efficiency reporting requirements for agricultural water suppliers.

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