Legal Alerts Oct 19, 2016

New California Legislation Targets Multifamily Residential Buildings for Water Conservation

SB 7, Which Goes Into Effect Jan. 1, 2018, May Require Individual Unit Water Measurement

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In a move that could have significant implications for water purveyors, residential developers, and landlords and tenants throughout California, Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed Senate Bill 7 into law. Intended to encourage water conservation in apartments and other multiunit developments, SB 7 requires the owner of any multiunit residential and/or mixed-use development constructed after January 1, 2018 to install individual or submeters that measure the quantity of water supplied to each individual unit.

Existing law directs every water purveyor to require—as a condition of new water service—the installation of a water meter to measure water service. SB 7 seeks to bring forth a new era in water conservation by expanding upon this standard in several key ways, including:

  • SB 7 requires the owner of a newly constructed multiunit residential, commercial or mixed-use structure to install and read submeters, unless the water purveyor either agrees to install and read the submeters or the purveyor is operating under an ordinance or regulation that currently requires individual metering.
  • SB 7 includes several key exemptions, including for: 1.) low-income housing developments; 2.) long-term health care facilities; 3.) time-share properties; 4.) residential care facilities for the elderly; and 5.) housing at schools and places of education.
  • SB 7 directs each water purveyor that sells, leases, furnishes or delivers water service to an applicable development for which an application for at least one water connection is submitted after January 1, 2018 to require a measurement of the water supplied to each resident dwelling unit as a condition of new water service.
  • SB 7 includes several provisions aimed at protecting consumers and tenants. Among them, SB 7 imposes certain requirements for maintaining submeters, billing for water service by property owners, and notice and disclosure requirements to tenants.


While SB 7’s requirements do not go into effect until January 1, 2018, interested parties should begin to prepare now for what could result in a significant investment of time and money in the coming years. Best Best & Krieger LLP advises numerous public and private entities on these and related issues throughout the state. If you have any questions about SB 7 or how it may impact your agency or project, please contact the attorney authors of this Legal Alert listed to the right in the firm’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources and Special Districts practice groups, 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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