Dawn Koepke

Water conservation bills affecting CII sector signed into law

By Dawn Koepke

Capitol Update, June 18, 2018 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Governor Brown recently signed SB 606 (Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys) and AB 1668 (Laura Friedman, D-Burbank), which build upon the state’s ongoing efforts to “make conservation a California way of life.” As a package, the bills establish guidelines for efficient water use and a framework to implement and oversee water use efficiency standards among water agencies, the business community, agriculture, residents, etc. The measures are a significant step for California in reassessing how we use water, how efficiently, etc. and are based on the April 2017 Making Conservation a Way of Life” Report developed in collaboration by five agencies – Department of Water Resources (DWR), State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) along with a stakeholder process that included the business community. The Report and these bills are ultimately the implementation of the Governor’s 2016 Executive Order B-37-16.

The guidelines for efficient water use and a framework for the implementation and oversight of the new standards must be in place by 2022. Further, under the legislation each urban water provider will be required to come up with a target for water use. These targets will be based on a formula that is made up of three main factors, including an initial limit for indoor water use of 55 gallons per-person per-day, which gradually drops to 50 gallons per person by 2030; a yet-to-be-determined amount for residential outdoor use that will vary depending on regional climates; and a standard for water loss due to leak rates in water system pipes. Additionally, the package provides authority to DWR and SWRCB to establish performance standards for the commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) sectors. Based on discussions with the CII sectors, the 2017 Report and ultimately the legislation recognized the significant diversity in businesses within the CII sectors throughout the state that results in a wide range of water use. In this regard, instead of establishing hard volumetric standards or a water budget for the CII sectors, they direct establishment of the following performance measures: 

  • Requires the establishment of long-term efficient water use standards and for them to have a component for indoor residential water use, outdoor residential water use, outdoor irrigation of landscape areas with dedicated irrigation meters in connection with CII water use, and a volume for water loss, as specified;
  • Establishment of an urban water use objective as the aggregate of the efficient water use components (indoor residential, outdoor residential, outdoor irrigation of CII on a dedicated meter, and water loss) based on previous year water use and reported annually; and 
  • Requires DWR, in coordination with the SWRCB, to conduct studies and investigations and recommend no later than October 1, 2021, performance measures for CII water use for adoption by the SWRCB.

Also significant, in order to minimize the effects of water conservation efforts on the economy and business operations in the state, the legislative package provided an exemption for process water use.

Now that the bills have been signed into law, the regulatory agencies – DWR and SWRCB – will have to initiate the stakeholder conversations, studies, and rulemaking processes relevant to their jurisdiction to implement the bills. There will be public processes with the outcomes intended under the report to be revisited every five years so as to consider updates that may be necessary and possible establishment of future industry-specific performance standards and/or other means to improve efficiency in the CII sector. DWR has indicated they intend to begin stakeholder outreach and workshops this summer. CMTA will be engaged in those discussions and the development of the performance measures. 

More information can be found in the Governor’s Press Release.

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