Legal Alerts Sep 24, 2014

Governor Signs New Laws Amending California’s Urban Water Management Planning Act

July 1, 2016 Set as Deadline for Preparing New Plans

Governor Signs New Laws Amending California’s Urban Water Management Planning Act

Under new amendments to California’s Urban Water Management Planning Act, urban water suppliers will be required to provide narrative descriptions of their water demand management measures and account for system water losses when preparing Urban Water Management Plans, among other changes. The amended Act, created by Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature on Assembly Bill 2067 and Senate Bill 1420 last week, also establishes July 1, 2016 as the deadline for urban water suppliers to prepare and submit their 2015 UWMPs to the Department of Water Resources.

Water supply planning in California is more important now than ever before. To that end, the Act generally requires all wholesale and retail urban water suppliers — whether publicly or privately owned — that provide water directly or indirectly for municipal purposes to more than 3,000 customers, or more than 3,000 acre-feet per year, to prepare an UWMP. The standard timing requirement is that UWMPs must be adopted at least once every five years on or before December 31 in years ending in five and zero (i.e., 2005, 2010, 2015). Based on previous legislation, the deadline for adopting and submitting the 2010 UWMPs was extended to July 1, 2011, which gave water agencies additional time to comply with the then-new requirements of the Water Conservation Act of 2009 (otherwise known as SBX7-7). Under AB 2067, the deadline for agencies to adopt and submit the next round of 2015 UWMPs will be extended to July 1, 2016. Also notable, SB 1420 amended the Act to require agencies to electronically submit their UWMPs to DWR, and to include any standardized forms, tables, or displays specified by DWR.

Demand management remains a critical component of the UWMP process. This was made abundantly clear in 2009 when SBX7-7 was passed to require a statewide 20 percent reduction in urban per capita water use by Dec. 31, 2020. SBX7-7 substantially expanded the role of UWMPs by requiring all urban retail water suppliers to develop baseline daily per capita water use data, urban water use targets, and other technical information, and to report all of the information in their 2010 UWMPs.

AB 2067 and SB 1420 mark a continued focus on water use reduction strategies. As amended, the Act will require urban retail water suppliers to provide a “narrative description” that addresses the nature and extent of each water demand management measure implemented over the last five years, the measures the supplier plans to implement to achieve its water use targets in accordance with SBX7-7, and specific descriptions of certain water saving practices. Urban wholesale water suppliers will also be required to provide narrative descriptions for certain water-saving practices. In addition, the amended Act will require UWMPs to quantify “distribution system water loss” as a new category of a water supplier’s past and current water use. Furthermore, the Act has been amended to allow water use projections to account for water savings estimated to result from applicable codes, standards, ordinances and transportation and land use plans.

Similar to when SBX7-7 made it more complicated to prepare the 2010 UWMPs, AB 2067 and SB 1420 have added new requirements and procedures for preparing the next round of 2015 UWMPs. Best Best & Krieger LLP has represented myriad retail and wholesale water providers throughout the state in preparing their UWMPs, Water Supply Assessments, Written Verifications and other water supply analyses required by law. 

For more information about how the Urban Water Management Planning Act will affect your agency, please contact one of the attorney authors of this legal alert listed at right in the Environmental Law & Natural Resources practice group, or your BB&K attorney.

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