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New State Water Board Regulations Aimed at Water-Wasters

July 18, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought State of Emergency in January calling on Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.
 
In addition, the Governor directed various state agencies, local water suppliers and local governments to begin implementing water conservation strategies and contingency plans in order to prepare for anticipated water shortages. As drought conditions worsened, the Governor issued an Executive Order in April calling on the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to “adopt and implement emergency regulations pursuant to Water Code section 1058.5, as it deems necessary to prevent the waste, unreasonable use, unreasonable method of use, or unreasonable method of diversion of water, to promote water recycling or water conservation, and to require curtailment of diversions when water is not available under the diverter's priority of right.”

This week, the SWRCB adopted several regulations addressing the drought and restricting certain activities to conserve water. A copy of the board presentation and additional information is available online.  

The new regulations prohibit the following, except where necessary to address health and safety needs:
  1. The application of water to outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff such that water flows onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, or structures;
  2. The use of a hose to wash an automobile, except where the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle or device attached to it that causes it to cease dispensing water immediately when not in use;
  3. The application of water to any hard surface, including but not limited to driveways, sidewalks, and asphalt; and
  4. The use of potable water in a fountain or other decorative water feature, except where the water is part of a recirculating system.
(Note: These restrictions only apply to potable water. Use of recycled water would not be impacted.)
 
Those found to be in violation of these prohibitions are subject to a fine of up to $500 for each day the violation occurs. Local agencies are tasked with enforcing the new regulations and the ability to determine the best course of disciplinary action. For example, cities may opt to issue a smaller fine to first-time violators or issue a citation warning stating that further action may be taken should violations continue.
 
The regulations also require water suppliers (including those cities that supply water) to implement their existing water shortage contingency plan and impose mandatory restrictions on outdoor irrigation. Each urban water supplier that does not have a water shortage contingency plan, or has been notified by the Department of Water Resources that its water shortage contingency plan does not meet the requirements of Water Code section 10632 shall, within thirty (30) days, limit outdoor irrigation by the persons it serves to no more than two days per week or shall implement another mandatory conservation measure or measures intended to achieve a comparable reduction in water consumption by the persons it serves relative to the amount consumed in 2013
 
Urban water suppliers are required to prepare and submit to the SWRCB by the 15th of each month a monitoring report detailing the amount of potable water the urban water supplier produced, including treated water provided by a wholesaler, in the preceding calendar month. The monitoring report shall also estimate the gallons of water per person per day used by the persons it serves. In its initial monitoring report, each urban water supplier shall state the number of persons it serves.


 
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