State Water Board Releases Draft Emergency Water Conservation Regulations

Stepping up its call to the public to increase water conservation during the state’s worsening drought, the State Water Resources Control Board this morning released proposed statewide emergency water conservation regulations that would restrict certain forms of outdoor water use and impose fines of up to $500 for violations.

The draft statewide emergency conservation regulations – believed to be the first of their kind in state’s history – also would require urban water suppliers to implement their water shortage contingency plans at a level that triggers mandatory restrictions on outdoor water use.

"We are in one of the worst statewide droughts in modern times," Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Board said in a call with reporters. Marcus said she hoped the emergency regulations would raise the "floor of a new community norm" for water use and conservation.

"(The regulations) are proposing the least that Californians can do," she added.

The regulations also would require urban water suppliers to track water production and use and compare it to the same period last year. Agencies must then submit that data to the State Water Board by the 15th of each month.

The public comment period on the regulations is open until noon July 14. The State Water Board will consider adoption of the proposed regulations at its July 15 meeting. Gov. Jerry Brown’s emergency executive orders related to the drought granted the State Water Board authority to adopt such regulations.

The proposed regulations are here.

The proposed regulations include prohibitions against:

  •      The direct application of water to any hard surface for washing.

  •  Watering of outdoor landscapes that cause runoff to adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots or structures.

  •  Using a hose to wash an automobile, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle.

  •  Using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated.

 Violations of prohibited activities would be considered infractions and would be punishable by fines of $500 for each day in which the violation occurs. Any employee of a public agency charged with enforcing laws could write and issue a ticket to the violator.

Additionally, the proposed regulations would require urban water suppliers to keep track of  water use and compare it to the same period last year. Reports that include the amount of potable water the supplier produced in the preceding month and an estimate of gallons of water per person per day used by its customers would be submitted to the State Water Board by the 15th of each month.