New Legislation Would Ease Burden of Water Conservation Mandates
Local Water Districts Offer Early Support for Senator Archuleta’s Senate Bill 1330 Amending California’s Water Code

Rowland Heights, CA– Rowland Water District (RWD), Walnut Valley Water District and Bellflower-Somerset Mutual Water Company have banded together to co-sponsor a new bill, SB 1330, introduced by Senator Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera). This legislation would provide cost savings for water suppliers facing new water conservation mandates.

Two 2018 laws require urban retail water suppliers to reduce water use in residential and commercial sectors of the economy. The State Water Resources Control Board has prepared regulations to implement the laws, known together as “Making Water Conservation a Way of Life,” but water suppliers have expressed concern that compliance with the regulations will be costly and yield little water savings.

“I met with water suppliers in my district last fall and heard loud and clear their concerns about the cost of complying with these conservation mandates,” said Senator Archuleta. “The water managers and elected officials asked if I could do something to help them, so I looked into it.”

A report released last month by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) supported an effort to introduce legislation to provide suppliers more time and greater flexibility to meet the mandates. The LAO provides fiscal and policy advice to the Legislature. The LAO report noted that the long-term urban water use efficiency framework to “Make Conservation a California Way of Life” is one component of the state’s overall water management strategy that creates new requirements for about 405 urban retail water suppliers that supply water to nearly 95 percent of state residents.

The LAO found that State Water Board’s proposed regulations “will create challenges for water suppliers in several key ways, in many cases without compelling justifications.” Specifically, the LAO concluded that the performance measures suppliers must implement for commercial customers are unnecessarily complex, lack clarity in places, and will be administratively burdensome to implement. The LAO also noted that the State Water Board proposes such stringent standards for outdoor use that suppliers will not have much “wiggle room” in complying.

“The new framework is estimated to result in cumulative costs in the low tens of billions of dollars from 2025 through 2040,” the LAO wrote in its report. “These costs will be borne primarily by suppliers, wastewater agencies, and customers.”

“Rowland Water District and our neighboring agencies, Walnut Valley Water District and Bellflower-Somerset Mutual Water Company, are grateful for Senator Archuleta’s initiative in securing a solution for a complex issue,” said RWD General Manager Tom Coleman. “We all want to make conservation a way of life in California, but not at the expense of our customers’ needs. Access to affordable water is critical and this new legislation is the foundation of an attainable conservation goal.”

The focus of the new bill is to reduce the number of unique water use variances by removing a threshold of significance, in favor of randomized audits. It also moves the timeline of compliance from 2024 to 2026, allowing agencies to educate customers and implement effective monitoring programs. Data would only need to be submitted every ten years instead of annually, greatly reducing staffing demands while still providing meaningful data.

“My goals for SB 1330 are two-fold,” said Senator Archuleta. “I want to provide flexibility for water suppliers to comply with the water conservation mandates, which will reduce costs and provide more time for reaching the urban water use objectives established in the 2018 laws. I also want to help Californians who are facing ever-increasing water bills both at home and at work. California is a high cost of living state and anything we can do to bring affordability to residents and businesses just makes sense.”