As directed in Gov. Edmund Brown Jr.’s November executive order, the State Water Resources Control Board has drafted a revised set of emergency regulations to create water savings during the drought.
SWRCB issued its initial regulations in March 2015, but in November, when Brown issued a new executive order, he extended the urban water use restrictions through the end of October 2016.
For Hill water districts, no changes in the new regulations affect their behavior. They are still required to take one of two actions. One option is to limit outdoor irrigation of ornamental landscapes with potable water to no more than two days per week.
The alternative is to reduce potable water production 25 percent compared to production in 2013 for the months of December 2015 through August 2016.
For urban water suppliers, SWRCB has modified the regulations to lesson the required water reductions based on climate, population growth and investments in drought-resilient sources of potable water.
The climate adjustment recognizes that the warmer or hottest areas in the state lose water to evapotranspiration at greater rates than the rest of the state. Now, for example, if a district can show its local evapotranspiration rate is 20 percent greater than the statewide average, it can reduce its conservation mandate by 4 percent.
Districts where population is growing may also adjust its requirements to accommodate the increased water demand.
The third adjustment will give credit to districts that have invested in an alternative potable water supply that is drought-resilient. For example, the Carlsbad Desalination Project may generate credits for districts using its water.
Another change restricts homeowners’ ability to prevent their members from reducing or eliminating lawn watering, or even the ripping out of the lawn or landscaping during the drought emergency.