According to the Governor’s Office, cities, counties and water agencies will be given greater authority to increase the penalties for water waste. The legislation has not yet appeared in draft form, but it reportedly will supplement not replace, local ordinances on the same subject, with penalties from enforcement be used for local conservation efforts. Separately, the Governor announced he has directed state agencies to help local water agencies by streamlining the state’s environmental reviews of local water supply projects.
The mayors, from more than a dozen cities stood with the Governor as he made the announcement. League First Vice President Dennis Michael, mayor of Rancho Cucamonga, represented the organization. Other mayors present include:
- Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait;
- Coachella Mayor Steve Hernandez;
- Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin;
- Livermore Mayor John Marchand;
- Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia;
- Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf;
- Redding Mayor Francie Sullivan;
- Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey;
- San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer;
- San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo;
- Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido;
- Santa Rosa Mayor John Sawyer; and
- Visalia Mayor Steven Nelsen.
League Executive Director Chris McKenzie was also present at the meeting. He remarked on the myriad of strategies local governments are implementing to save water both in their operations and by their residents. “The League appreciates the Governor’s strong leadership on water conservation. While cities either already have in place or are in the process of developing and adopting drought related penalties to discourage water waste, we welcome any assistance from the state in providing cities with additional enforcement tools to address this emergency situation. The public understands the depth of the water crisis our states faces, and protecting our remaining precious water supplies from misuse and waste is a top priority of city leaders.”
The Governor’s proposal in brief would:
- Establish a new penalty of up to $10,000 per violation, expanding on $500 per day maximum infraction established in last year’s drought legislation.
- Allow penalties to be issued administratively by wholesale and retail water agencies, as well as city and county governments. This change speeds up an infraction process involving courts that was established in last year’s emergency drought legislation.
- Enable these entities to enforce local water restrictions against water waste, as well as conservation restrictions established by the State Water Resources Control Board.
- Allow local public agencies to deputize staff to issue water conservation-related warnings and citations.
The Governor also wants to streamline environmental permitting for critical water supply projects. The Office of Planning and Research and other state agencies will be charged with working with local water agencies to cut down the time it takes to comply with state reviews.
The League will update members with more details as they become available.