Legal Alerts Mar 11, 2016

March 15 Deadline Approaches For California Water Suppliers to Apply for Adjustments to Water Conservation Requirements

Climate, Growth and Water Supply Adjustments Ease Conservation Burden in Some Communities

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The deadline is fast approaching for urban water suppliers to apply for an adjustment to their water conservation standards under California’s current emergency drought regulation. The State Water Resources Control Board will accept online applications for adjustments through March 15. According to the Board, 81 suppliers have applied for adjustments thus far, resulting in the easing of numerous conservation standards throughout California.

The conservation standards are part of a far-reaching set of mandates adopted by the Board last May to address the drought and reduce potable water use in California by 25 percent. The Board modified and extended the emergency regulation on Feb. 2. It now runs through October.

Under the regulation, the state’s 411 urban water suppliers were assigned mandatory potable water restrictions, known as conservation standards, of up to 36 percent. The conservation standards, which compare usage against 2013 levels, have been difficult to achieve in many locations. In some instances, the Board has imposed conservation orders and administrative civil liability complaints, including monetary fines for those that have failed to achieve their required reductions. Based on criticism and input from many impacted suppliers, the Board modified the regulation when extending it last month to permit suppliers to apply for adjustments based on climate and population growth. Credits also are available for suppliers that have created new local drought-resilient sources of potable water supply.

The maximum reduction to a supplier’s conservation standard through the combined adjustments and credits is capped at eight percentage points. Nearly all of the 81 suppliers that submitted adjustment requests so far saw their conservation standards drop.

To receive a conservation standard adjustment, suppliers must submit required information for verification through an online reporting tool available here. A fact sheet about the adjustment process and extended conservation regulation can be found here. The Board recently reported that more than 1.1 million acre-feet of water has been conserved throughout California between June 2015 through January as a result of the statewide water restrictions.

For more information on these standards and how they may impact your agency, please contact one of the authors of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources practice group, or your BB&K attorney.

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Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.

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