Scaled-Down Conservation Bills Clear Senate Committee; Work to Continue over Recess

  • by Lisa Lien-Mager
  • Jul 11, 2017
  • Water News

The Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee stripped two conservation bills down to intent language and passed a third in its current form on July 11 as a step toward negotiating a package of bills on long-term conservation and drought planning.

AB 1654 (Rubio) and AB 1668 (Friedman) – which previously contained competing proposals to enhance urban water management planning – were amended to replace substantive provisions with language stating the Legislature’s intent to enact measures to make conservation a way of life in California.

AB 1323 (Weber) was approved in its current form. The bill would require the California Department of Water Resources to convene a stakeholder work group to recommend new water use targets for urban water suppliers. ACWA has a favor position on the bill.

A fourth bill, AB 1667 (Friedman), was held in committee. The bill addresses agricultural water conservation but was amended July 3 to include several provisions related to long-term urban conservation target setting. ACWA had a watch position on the previous version of the bill.

Sen. Robert Herzberg (D-Van Nuys), chair of the committee, said a group of Assembly and Senate members, stakeholders and Brown Administration representatives will work over the legislative break to craft a final package of bills. The Legislature is set to adjourn for summer recess on July 21 and reconvene on Aug. 21.

Hertzberg acknowledged “a lot of work has been done,” and said a focused effort will now be undertaken to “harmonize” input from the Senate, Assembly, Administration and stakeholder groups to “work out what the ultimate package looks like.” The package likely will include three Assembly bills and a Senate bill, Hertzberg said.

Representatives of several ACWA member agencies provided comment at the hearing, with many emphasizing the need to preserve flexibility for local agencies, to protect local investments in drought resilience and preparedness, and to preserve the Legislature’s authority to set conservation targets.

Herzberg invited stakeholders to submit letters with their perspectives on specific issues related to urban water management planning, long-term targets, enforcement and areas. Committee staff will compile the input into a single document for use during deliberations.

ACWA will continue to update its members on the status of negotiations and next steps in the Senate.

Members with questions may direct them to ACWA Senior Legislative Advocate Whitnie Wiley.

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