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State Agencies Release Draft Report Identifying Expansive Regulatory Framework For California’s Future Water Conservation Requirements

On November 30, 2016, a joint draft report was issued by five state agencies summarizing their individual and collective implementation actions and recommendations for a long-term framework for water conservation in California. The draft report, entitled “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life: Implementing Executive Order B-37-16” (Draft Report), was prepared by Department of Water Resources (DWR), the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and the California Energy Commission (CEC) (collectively: EO Agencies). The Draft Report identifies actions to be taken within the EO Agencies’ existing authorities, as well as recommendations calling for additional agency authority, to satisfy the directives issued by the Governor in the May 2016 Executive Order B-37-16. The Draft Report provides a preview of what California’s water future may look like, with increasing regulatory requirements regarding water conservation across urban and agricultural sectors.

The Draft Report represents a sea change in the regulatory environment regarding water conservation in California. The Draft Report identifies a suite of regulatory actions, some within existing agency authority and others that require additional agency authority, that will impose additional regulatory burdens and conservation requirements on urban and agricultural water suppliers. The Draft Report provides a glimpse into California’s water future, in which water suppliers and those they serve will be asked to do more with less.

(Elizabeth Leeper, Daniel O’Hanlon)