By Michael Shaw, VP, Government Relations
As of the end of January 2017, nearly 40 percent of California was no longer considered to be in drought. As compared to the same time last year, this is a marked improvement when 100 percent of the state was in some level of drought. Despite this significant change in the water resources across the state, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) opted to extend the existing emergency water conservation regulations over opposition from water suppliers that argued there is no longer a drought emergency warranting such emergency action.
SWRCB elected to continue the existing drought regulation as California is only halfway through the typical wet season and Governor Jerry Brown, known for not being a rash decision maker, evaluates whether it is appropriate to lift his Executive Order proclaiming the state is under a severe drought. The emergency regulation requires individual urban water suppliers to self-certify the level of available water supplies currently available assuming the state experiences three more successive dry years and determine the level of conservation necessary to assure adequate supply over that time. Under the regulation, urban water suppliers are required to reduce potable water use by a percentage equal to their projected shortfall in the event of three more dry years. Additionally, the regulation continues the ban on wasteful water use practices such as hosing down driveways, washing cars without a shutoff valve on hoses, and more.
As has been the case with prior iterations of the emergency regulation, industrial sources are not called out for specific restrictions or measures to be implemented by local water suppliers. CMTA and other industry representatives lobbied the SWRCB board and staff to not set targeted goals that could impact process water use as it could force manufacturers into an impossible situation where reducing water use impacts production levels or stand to violate other health and safety laws.
The emergency regulation now goes to the Office of Administrative Law for review and approval. Unless otherwise extended by SWRCB, the current regulation is set to expire automatically on February 28, 2017.
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