• Apr 21, 2021

California has experienced many periods of drought and weather extremes, which due to climate change, are occurring more frequently. Governor Newsom’s July 2021 Executive Order asks Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15% from their 2020 levels. In addition, the Governor’s March 22 Executive Order directed the State Water Resources Control Board to enact regulations requiring urban water suppliers to move to at least level 2 of their Water Shortage Contingency Plans and banning irrigation of non-functional turf for CII customers. These regulations went into effect on June 10, 2022.

Water and wastewater agencies continue to utilize lessons learned from the 2012-’16 drought. ACWA member agencies continue to support local investments in water supply resilience and continue to make water efficiency a California way of life so the state is always prepared for these climactic extremes.

2021 and 2022 Updates

12/7/22: State Water Board readopts emergency regulations prohibiting wasteful water uses.
8/11/22: Gov. Newsom releases “California’s Water Supply Strategy: Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future.”
7/28/22: State Water Board releases updated FAQ on statewide requirements for conserving water.
6/10/22: State Water Board new drought-related emergency regulation in effect requiring urban water suppliers to enact at least Level 2 of their Water Shortage Contingency Plans and banning irrigation of non-functional turf for CII customers.
6/7/22: State Water Board releases FAQ on new drought-related emergency regulation
6/6/22: Gov. Newsom emails water suppliers to submit May water use data early
5/24/22: State Water Board adopted a drought-related emergency regulation for water conservation that addresses the Governor’s March 28 EO
3/28/22: Gov. Newsom releases Executive Order directing State Water Board to adopt regulations for urban water suppliers to enact, at a minimum, Level 2 of their Water Shortage Contingency Plans and to define “non-functional” turf and ban the irrigation of non-functional turf for commercial, industrial and institutional sectors.
4/1/22: DWR begins work to refill the notch in the Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier in the Delta. Expected completion by April 15.
3/21/22: State sent early warning letters to approx. 20,000 water rights holders to plan for curtailments in certain watersheds should dry conditions continue.
3/18/22: DWR announces State Water Project allocation reduction to 5% of requested supplies for 2022
1/18/22: Emergency regulation in effect for one year unless modified or readopted.
1/4/22: State Water Board adopts emergency water use regulations prohibiting wasteful water uses.
10/19/21: Gov. Newsom expands Drought Proclamation to include all 58 counties in CA and encourages State Water Board to prohibit wasteful water uses
8/31/21: State Water Board informational webinar on curtailment and reporting orders
8/20/21: State Water Board issued curtailment orders to approximately 4,500 right holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta.
7/8/21: Gov. Newsom extends Drought Proclamation to include 50 counties
7/8/21: Gov. Newsom releases EO asking Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15% from 2020 levels
5/10/21: Gov. Newsom announces $5.1 billion plan for water infrastructure, drought response and $1 billion to help Californians pay overdue water bills
5/10/21: Gov. Newsom extends Drought Proclamation to include 41 counties
4/21/21: Gov. Newsom releases Drought Proclamation declaring State of Emergency in Mendocino & Sonoma County
4/1/21: DWR April 1 snow survey show critically dry year
3/30/21: ACWA releases Drought Toolkit for members
3/23/21: DWR lowers initial State Water Project allocations from 10% to 5%
3/23/21: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announces South-of-Delta agricultural repayment and water service contractors will have delayed access to water allocation
3/15/21: California Natural Resources Agency releases 2012-2016 Drought Report
 2/5/21: State Water Board releases “Water Rights Drought Effort Review”
February: State Water Board releases “Recommendations for an Effective Water Rights Response to Climate Change”

Member Agency Drought Response Stories

Read the articles below to learn more about how ACWA member agencies are working towards a reliable and resilient water supply. Also, visit ACWA’s drought response page to learn how member agencies are responding to the drought. Member agencies are encouraged to submit water resilience stories here.



Water Use Efficiency

In 2018, the California Legislature enacted two key policy bills—Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668—to implement a new framework for long-term water conservation and drought planning for water suppliers. The two bills provide new and expanded authorities and requirements that affect water conservation and drought planning for water supplies, agricultural water suppliers, and small water suppliers and rural communities.

The Department of Water Resources (DWR), the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), and other state agencies are currently implementing the legislation and developing data, information, guidelines and other technical assistance to help realize the bill’s intended outcomes. ACWA continues to engage on this issue through the Water Use Efficiency Work Group. Members interested in participating can contact ACWA Regulatory Relations Manager Chelsea Haines.

More information is available on ACWA’s Water Use Efficiency Page.


ACWA’s 2022 Summer Drought Toolkit encourages member agencies to continue to communicate often with customers and local media outlets to educate them about your agencies’ conservation successes and investments in long-term drought resilience. The toolkit includes a customizable op-ed, news release templates, media pitch ideas, emergency regulation fact sheets and more.

ACWA’s 2022 Spring Drought Toolkit is available to assist ACWA member agencies with drought messaging as they engage with customers, stakeholders and the media. The toolkit includes urban and agriculture-related talking points and a customizable drought op-ed template.

The statewide Save Our Water campaign, in partnership with ACWA, has created customizable communications tools for ACWA member agencies to help their customers reduce water usage inside and outside the home throughout the winter and during the holidays. These materials are available to ACWA members online.

The Save Our Water Partner Toolkit is also available for the public and includes HOA materials, videos, radio ads, signage and social media graphics that can be used by agencies and municipalities.


Below are a number of resources available to help ACWA member agencies stay informed about the current drought situation.

ACWA Resources

ACWA Comment Letters

State Pages

Background Legislation