State Proposes Aggressive Water Conservation Plan

This week, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) released a draft plan for achieving permanent conservation measures for water consumption in California in line with the Executive Order the Governor issued is May of 2016.  Several key water conservation efforts included in the plan include:

  • Permanent bans on wasteful practices, such as hosing driveways and excessively watering lawns.
  • Technical assistance and financial incentives for water suppliers to implement leak prevention, detection, and repair programs.
  • Collecting information about innovative water conservation and water loss detection and control technologies.
  • Requiring agricultural water suppliers to quantify water use in their service areas and describe measures to increase water use efficiency.
  • Full compliance with water use targets for urban water suppliers by 2025.
  • Planning and preparing for continued and future drought and water shortages.

The draft plan concerning agricultural water is outside of the scope of the Executive Order, so will require statutory authority.  It is anticipated that the administration the administration has already drafted language that will either be run through the process or as a budget trailer bill.   The SWRCB has been overseeing much of the implementation of the Executive Order, so it is likely the expanded statutory authority would be given to the Board as well.   For agricultural water suppliers, requirements will include:

  1. Develop an annual water budget for the agricultural water service area;
  2. Identify agricultural water management objectives and implementation plans;
  3. Quantify measures to increase water use efficiency; and
  4. Develop an adequate drought plan for periods of limited supply.

The proposal would expand existing requirements to require agricultural water suppliers providing water to over 10,000 irrigated acres of land to prepare, adopt, and submit plans by April 1, 2021, and every five years thereafter. Agricultural water suppliers would also be required to submit an annual report to DWR by April 1 of each year that documents water budget inflow and outflow components in the water budget for the preceding water year.   The draft plan can be found here:

Comments on the plan will be received through December 19.