Urban Water Conservation Emergency Regulations Effective Immediately


By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on March 27 approved Urban Water Conservation Emergency Regulations issued by the State Water Resources Control Board in response to the continuing drought.  The regulations, which were adopted by the State Board on March 17, are effective immediately.

Urban water suppliers (with 3,000 or more connections or serving 3,000 acre-feet or more) must now impose a mandatory limit on the number of days per week that customers can irrigate outdoors. Outdoor irrigation is limited to no more than two days per week, or as specified in the water supplier’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan. If the plan contains no specific limit on the number of days per week that customers can irrigate, it may be amended to include such a limit. But the amended plan must be adopted and implementation must begin within 45 days (by May 11, 2015).

Emergency Regulations Extended

The OAL action extends the emergency regulations issued last summer for another 270 days to Dec. 23, 2015, and adds several new provisions.

All California water users continue to be prohibited from:

  • washing down sidewalks and driveways;
  • washing a motor vehicle with a hose, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle; and
  • operating a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is part of a recirculating system

New Requirements

All water users:

  • are prohibited from irrigating turf or ornamental landscapes during and 48 hours following measurable precipitation.

Commercial businesses:

  • restaurants and other food service establishments can serve water to customers only on request; and
  • operators of hotels and motels must provide guests with the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily; notice of this option must be prominently displayed.

Water suppliers:

  • must notify customers when they are aware of leaks that are within the customer’s control;
  • must limit outdoor irrigation to specified days per week (as described above);
  • must report the number of days to which outdoor irrigation has been limited, and describe compliance and enforcement efforts as part of ongoing monthly reporting to the State Board.

For smaller water suppliers (fewer than 3,000 connections or 3,000 acre-feet), outdoor irrigation must be limited to two days per week or the supplier must implement in-lieu mandatory measures designed to achieve a 20% reduction in water consumption.


Although not specified in the emergency regulations, water suppliers may enforce these and other locally-imposed conservation requirements and impose locally-adopted fines using existing powers and practices (including exceptions or variances, and continued exercise of administrative discretion).

The emergency regulations authorize water suppliers to impose fines on customers of up to $500 a day for violations of water use prohibitions. The State Board can issue cease-and-desist orders against water agencies that don’t impose mandatory conservation measures upon their retail customers. Violations of cease-and-desist orders are subject to civil liability penalties of up to $10,000 a day.

ACWA Recommendations

ACWA recommends that local water agencies take the following steps:

1)  Immediately inform customers of the continued and new provisions of the emergency regulations. If you are not already doing so, immediately implement the mandatory outdoor irrigation limitations or amend your Water Shortage Contingency Plan to include the required limitations by May 11, 2015.

2)  If you are not already doing so, immediately begin customer leak notification as required.

3)  Continue monthly reporting and include new water use information, days per week irrigation limitations, and enforcement actions as required. Regularly monitor your agency performance metrics as they appear in the State Board reporting portal at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/conservation_reporting_info.shtml.

4)  Carefully document water waste reports, customer contacts and education, and enforcement activities.

5)  Consider outreach to commercial and institutional customers as needed to further promote water conservation. The Save Our Water program has outreach tools and resources that local water agencies may use at no charge. Visit www.saveourwater.com for more information or contact Jennifer Persike, ACWA’s deputy executive director for external affairs and operations, at jenniferp@acwa.com.

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