State Water Board Adopts Emergency Water Regulation by ACWA Staff May 24, 2022 Water News SACRAMENTO – The State Water Resources Control Board today adopted a drought-related emergency water conservation regulation that places new requirements on urban water suppliers and new restrictions related to irrigation of non-functional turf. The regulation is expected to go into effect the week of June 6. Three specific elements of the regulation include: Requires urban water suppliers to implement, at a minimum, all demand reduction actions identified in Level 2 of their locally adopted Water Shortage Contingency Plans. Requires urban water suppliers to submit a preliminary water supply and demand assessment to the Department of Water Resources by June 1, 2022. Prohibits irrigation of non-functional turf with potable water in the commercial, industrial, and institutional sector. The ban on irrigation would include non-residential grass areas that are considered ornamental and not otherwise used for recreation or other community purposes. The prohibition on irrigation of non-functional turf does not apply to residential customers, turf irrigated with recycled water or irrigation of trees and other perennial plantings. The prohibition does apply to homeowner associations’ common areas. Water suppliers are authorized to fine customers not in compliance. State Water Board staff will be developing a detailed “frequently asked questions” document to help clarify the regulation specifics. Development of such a document was one of the recommendations made by ACWA in a written comment letter submitted jointly with the California Municipal Utilities Association in response to the draft regulation. ACWA staff and a number of member agencies testified during the State Water Board meeting to urge a locally driven approach that recognizes local water supply conditions as opposed to a one-size-fits-all regulation. Agencies also shared information about their conservation efforts and investments in climate resiliency, including the diversification of water supplies through potable reuse, increased storage, increasing use of recycled water and other projects. Based on water agency and stakeholder comments, the State Water Board added some new changes to the proposed regulation during its meeting. First, the State Water Board clarified that if a water supplier has not submitted a Water Shortage Contingency Plan, and will be following the default Level 2 response actions outlined in the regulations, the limitation on outdoor watering two days a week is limited to potable water. Further, a limited exemption from the requirement to adopt Level 2 of locally adopted Water Shortage Contingency Plans was added. Finally, a small exception was provided for non-functional turf that meets certain drought-tolerance standards, among other more technical updates and changes. An updated version of the regulation will likely be posted on the State Water Board’s website. The proposed regulation was drafted in response to Gov. Newsom’s calling for Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15% compared to 2020 levels. The conservation request – extended by the March 28 Executive Order — applies to residential, industrial, commercial, agricultural and institutional water users. The State Water Board continues to track and report monthly on the state’s progress toward achieving the 15% reduction. In addition, the State Water Board adopted emergency regulations to prevent wasteful water uses and promote urban water conservation that went into effect Jan. 18.