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Water Conservation Portal - FAQ

Water Conservation Portal - FAQ

Water Conservation Portal


FAQ

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How should new permanent residents be calculated?

A new permanent resident is one who occupies a residence in the supplier's service area other than for a temporary or transitory purpose, that was not counted as a permanent resident before 2013. Part-time residents do not count as permanent residents.

Preferably new permanent residents figures will be calculated in the same manner the number of pre-existing permanent residents was calculated for purposes of this emergency regulation, however suppliers may calculate the number of new permanent residents using a persons per connection average or using other sources of verifiable population data if the previously-used method is not available or does not reflect current data.


What water supplies can be included in the New, Local, Drought-resilient Supply credit?

A new, local, drought resilient source of supply is a supply that meets the following criteria:

  1. The source of supply was developed since 2013
  2. The use of the source does not reduce the water available to another legal user of water or the environment
  3. The supply adds to local freshwater resources and is resilient to drought impacts. Types of supplies that add to local freshwater resources and are resilient to drought impacts may include: Seawater desalination, Indirect or direct potable reuse of wastewater, and Desalination of brackish groundwater. Supplies that augment existing freshwater sources, such as conjunctive use, aquifer storage and recovery, and surface water diversion and impoundment, are not eligible for the credit.


Does the number of new CII connections include the number of new activated accounts, including reactivated accounts?

A new activated CII connection may include a site that previously had a water account, provided there has been zero potable water use from that location since 2013. This means that in some cases, new CII connections may arise from existing building stock, not just new construction.


We are in agreement that the default climate adjustment accurately accounts for our evapotranspiration situation. Do we need to submit any documentation to State Water Board staff for the default climate adjustment to take effect?

You do not need to submit further information for the default adjustment to occur. The default adjustment for climate will take effect for any qualifying urban water supplier automatically March 1, 2016 unless the supplier submits the information identified in section 865, subdivision (f)(1)(D) of the regulation to support an in-lieu climate adjustment.


What will the process be for water districts hoping to take advantage of the new adjustments? Is there a deadline for all adjustment information?

Urban water suppliers will need to submit any required information to the State Water Board (Board) by March 15, 2016 to support any adjustments for which additional data are necessary. The Board will have an on-line form for submitting requests and information pertaining to the Climate and Growth adjustments. The form will have embedded formulas to perform calculations. Information about the on-line form is available at this webpage: www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/conservation_portal/emergency_regulation.shtml


Is there an overall cap on the number of districts that will be able to get adjustments? What if too many water suppliers are entitled to reduce their conservation target?

There is no overall cap on the number of districts that may receive an adjustment. State Water Board staff used information currently available and made estimates of the number of districts that may participate when developing the credits and adjustments and estimating the total water conservation impacts of those credits and adjustments.


At what point in time does a new conservation standard go into effect if we submit our information by March 15th?

Submissions for adjustments and credit received by March 15, 2016 will be applied to a supplier's March 2016 conservation standard. Information submitted after March 15, 2016 will not be reviewed.


Can a water district be reclassified as a small water supplier, if they meet the definition now, but didn't before?

Yes, a large urban water supplier can become a small water supplier if they consistently deliver less than 3000 acre feet of water to fewer than 3000 customers.


Do credits apply to small suppliers and what are their requirements?

Credits do not apply to the smaller suppliers (those providing 3,000 acre-feet of water or less annually to 3,000 or fewer customers). Small water suppliers are required to either limit outdoor irrigation to no more than two days per week or achieve a 25% reduction in water use as compared to 2013. This means that even if a small supplier does not have measurements to establish a baseline, it can show compliance through a requirement on end-users that limits outdoor irrigation as noted. Additionally, there is one-time report due September 15, 2016. The State Water Board will provide an on-line report form for submitting this report.


I live in a hot climate, how much more water will I have to maintain my landscaping?

Your water supplier may have a reduced water conservation standard in 2016 from that required under the prior version of the emergency regulation and this may allow for slightly more outdoor irrigation, preferably to focus on tree care in hotter climates. Each local water supplier determines how to achieve its conservation standard. For tips on how to continue to conserve, visit www.saveourwater.com.


I have a golf course that uses water from our private well. What restrictions will apply?

As before, commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) properties with an independent water supply (not served by a water supplier) are required under the emergency regulation to either limit outdoor irrigation to no more than two days per week or achieve a 25% reduction in water use.  Other restrictions may apply locally.


How does direct delivery of recycled water prior to 2013 reduce the total water production reported as part of the original or extended emergency regulation framework?

Recycled water used for irrigation and other non-potable applications is not included in the total potable monthly water production numbers used for calculating compliance with a supplier's conservation standard. It helps lower the initial conservation standard. Direct delivery of recycled water prior to 2013 will in most cases have reduced potable water usage, leading to a correspondingly lower initial conservation standard.


Please provide information about the process to pursue relief through the existing alternative compliance process.

If an urban water supplier believes that the applicable conservation standard is unachievable due to firm commercial and industrial water use and residential use reductions that would affect public health and safety, Resolution 2015-0032 (see paragraph 16) allows an urban water supplier to submit a request, accompanied by supporting information or documentation, for alternate enforceable methods of compliance with the conservation standard.  The Board has issued Alternate Compliance Orders to several water suppliers with different localized water use situations including significant food processing, power generation, and petroleum refining uses by the urban water suppliers’ customers. Information on Alternate Compliance Orders issued to date are found on this webpage: Information on Alternate Compliance Orders issued to date are found on this webpage: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/conservation_portal/alternate_compliance_orders.shtml

 


Can you provide an updated Excel spreadsheet with the reported figures for retail water agencies for the last reporting period?

There is a time lag from when the State Water Board receives reports to when we are able to post this information in an Excel document.  Water suppliers report their water production figures for a given month to the Board by the 15th of the subsequent month, and we usually post those numbers in the updated Excel spreadsheet by the end of that month. Check this webpage for current information: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/conservation_portal/conservation_reporting.shtml


How did you come up with 6.34 inches as statewide average July - September ET? Why isn't this number weighted by population?

We took the average of the default values for all 411 urban water suppliers. This number may be revised based on changes to those default values. We didn’t use a population-weighted average because population is not related to evapotranspiration rates.


Will monthly reporting for large urban water suppliers continue or will it pause and restart in June?

Monthly reporting will continue as long as the Drought Emergency Water Conservation regulation is in effect and requires reporting.


Will compliance remain cumulative?

Yes, compliance remains cumulative under the renewed emergency regulation. This means that for those water suppliers that exceeded their standard in 2015, they will retain the benefits of those achievements. Likewise this means that for those suppliers who did not achieve their standard in 2015, they have more time to make up the deficiency. Some water suppliers may be eligible for adjustments that are included in the Extended Emergency Regulation that will lower their conservation compliance standard.


What will happen to the water suppliers that didn't meet their water use target by February 2016?

The State Water Board will continue to evaluate compliance in February and beyond and may take additional action on a case-by-case basis.


Are Home Owners Associations (HOAs) subject to the new regulation?

Under the May 2015 Emergency Regulation and the Extended Emergency Regulation, each urban water supplier is required to reduce its total potable water production by a specified percentage. Water suppliers will determine locally the actions they will take to ensure that they are meeting these requirements. Residents of HOAs and HOAs themselves, to the extent they use water, are subject to the requirements of their local water supplier. In response to complaints that HOAs were penalizing homeowners for their water conservation practices, the Extended Emergency Regulation includes the new penalties for HOAs that violate existing state laws that protecting certain water use practices by homeowners during a drought emergency.


Do the mandatory conservation requirements affect areas irrigated with non-potable recycled water?

The Extended Emergency Regulation continues to only apply to potable water use. Irrigation with non-potable recycled water will not be affected.


If I am a homeowner with a private well, will I be required to reduce my water use?

Private well owners that do not receive water service are, like all Californians, subject to the individual prohibitions contained in the emergency regulation and Executive Orders. The prohibitions that apply to everyone include:

      • Using potable water to wash sidewalks and driveways;
      • Allowing runoff when irrigating with potable water;
      • Using hoses with no shutoff nozzles to wash cars;
      • Using potable water in decorative water features that do not recirculate the water;
      • Irrigating outdoors during and within 48 hours following measureable rainfall;
      • Irrigation with potable water of ornamental turf on public street medians;
      • Irrigation with potable water outside of newly constructed homes and buildings that is not delivered by drip or microspray systems; and
      • Restaurants serving water to their customers unless the customer requests it.
Additionally, hotels and motels must offer their guests the option to not have their linens and towels laundered daily, and prominently display this option in each guest room.
It has been raining and there is snow in the mountains - is the drought over?

Drought remains a critical concern. The water content in the snow is above average, but if more snow doesn't come, then it will be below average for the year. Most reservoirs, especially the largest ones, are much lower than average for this time of year. Rainfall has helped, but so far drought conditions remain in most of the state.


Given the water supply for 2016 will not be known until April, why doesn't the proposed emergency regulation have triggers that could automatically lower (or increase) the requirements?

Automatic triggers do not allow for a careful assessment of all conditions relevant to the conservation standards. As directed by Resolution 2016-0007, the Board will consider adjustments by May 2016.


Why is there a cap to the total adjustments that any one supplier can receive?

A cap helps ensure appropriate conservation continues while drought conditions persist.


If a commercial or industrial business is using a private well, will it be required to cut water use?

Commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) properties with an independent water supply (not served by a water supplier) under the Extended Emergency Regulation continue to be required to either limit outdoor irrigation to no more than two days per week or achieve a 25% reduction in water use. Often, these properties have large landscapes that would otherwise not be addressed by this regulation but provide the same opportunity for appropriate conservation.


When does the emergency regulation go into effect?

The emergency regulation is effective May 18, 2015. End-user requirements go into effect immediately. Urban water suppliers must begin meeting their conservation standards beginning June 1, 2015.


Does the emergency regulation affect areas irrigated with non-potable recycled water?

No. The emergency regulation only applies to potable water use. Areas irrigated with non-potable recycled water will not be affected.


What are the prohibitions that apply to all Californians?
  • Using potable water to wash sidewalks and driveways;
  • Allowing runoff when irrigating with potable water;
  • Using hoses with no shutoff nozzles to wash cars;
  • Using potable water in decorative water features that do not recirculate the water;
  • Irrigating outdoors during and within 48 hours following measureable rainfall;
  • Irrigation with potable water of ornamental turf on public street medians; and
  • Irrigation with potable water outside of newly constructed homes and buildings that is inconsistent with regulations or other requirements established by the California Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development.

What prohibitions apply to businesses?

In addition to the prohibitions that apply to all Californians,

  • Restaurants are prohibited from serving water to their customers unless the customer requests it; and
  • Hotels and motels must offer their guests the option to not have their linens and towels laundered daily, and prominently display this option in each guest room.

How does the regulation affect the following entities and individuals?
  • Businesses that use water for manufacturing and other purposes
    The emergency regulation does not assign percent reductions to specific sectors. Under the emergency regulation, water suppliers are given flexibility to achieve their conservation standards. Water suppliers will determine locally the actions necessary to ensure that they are meeting these requirements. This includes ensuring that their commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) sectors are contributing to the conservation standard. For many CII water users, the State Water Board envisions that the majority of their water savings would be achieved through a reduction in outdoor water use and improved efficiency. Contact your water supplier to learn more about local conservation actions.
  • Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional (CII) properties that use a private well
    The emergency regulation requires commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) properties with an independent water supply (i.e., not served by a water supplier) to either limit outdoor irrigation to two days per week or achieve a 25 percent reduction in water use. Often, these properties have large landscapes that would otherwise not be addressed by this regulation.
  • Communities that already use less water
    Communities with lower per capita water use were assigned a lower conservation standard. Communities with higher water use are required to save more.
  • Golf Courses
    Golf courses, like all Californians, are subject to the individual end-user requirements contained in the emergency regulation. Furthermore, golf courses served by a water supplier are subject to the conservation actions determined by their water supplier. Additionally, golf courses with an independent water supply (i.e., not served by a water supplier in part or whole) are required to either limit outdoor irrigation to two days per week or achieve a 25 percent reduction in water use. Contact your water supplier to learn more about local conservation actions and golf course requirements.
  • Home Owners Associations (HOAs)
    HOAs, like all Californians, are subject to the individual end-user requirements contained in the emergency regulation. Furthermore, HOAs served by a water supplier are subject to the conservation actions determined by their water supplier. Additionally, HOAs with an independent water supply (i.e., not served by a water supplier in part or whole) are required to either limit outdoor irrigation to two days per week or achieve a 25 percent reduction in water use. Contact your water supplier to learn more about local conservation actions and HOA requirements.
  • Homeowners with a private well
    The 25 percent conservation requirement will be met primarily through standards imposed on water suppliers. Private well owners that do not receive water service are, like all Californians, subject to the individual end-user prohibitions contained in the emergency regulation.
  • Hospitals and health care facilities
    The emergency regulation does not assign percent reductions to specific sectors. Under the emergency regulation, water suppliers are given flexibility to achieve their conservation standards. Water suppliers will determine locally the actions necessary to ensure that they are meeting these requirements. Regardless, institutions, such as hospitals, should evaluate whether a reduction in outdoor irrigation use could produce significant water savings. Contact your water supplier to learn more about local conservation actions.

What is the different between an Urban Water Supplier and a Small Water Supplier?

Urban water suppliers serve more than 3,000 service connections or deliver more than 3,000 acre-feet of water in a year. There are over 400 urban water suppliers in the state. Small water suppliers serve 15 to 2,999 service connections or deliver less than 3,000 acre-feet of water in a year. There are over 2,900 small water suppliers through the state.


Why do urban water suppliers have different conservation standards?

The Governor's April 1, 2015 Executive Order directed the State Water Board to implement mandatory water reductions in urban areas to reduce potable urban water usage by 25 percent statewide. The Executive Order also directed that this regulation take into account the different levels of conservation already achieved by communities, based upon their relative per capita water usage. Many communities have been conserving for years. Some of these communities have achieved remarkable results with residential water use now hovering around the statewide target for indoor water use (55 gallons per capita per day [R-GPCD]), while others are using many times more. Everyone must do more, but the greatest opportunities to meet the statewide 25 percent reduction in potable water use now exists in those areas with higher water use. Often, but not always, these water suppliers are located in areas where the majority of the water use is directed at outdoor irrigation due to lot size and other factors.

The emergency regulation assigns each urban water supplier to a water reduction tier based upon three months of summer R-GPCD data (July 2014 - September 2014). There are nine tiers that range from 4 percent to 36 percent conservation. Collectively, the urban water suppliers should achieve a 25 percent reduction in potable water use statewide. This equates to approximately 1.2 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or nearly as much water as is currently in Lake Oroville.


What is Residential Gallons Per Capita per Day (R-GPCD) and how is it calculated?

R-GPCD is the number of gallons of water per person per day used by the residential customers a supplier serves. R-GPCD is calculated using the following equation:

[(TMP*PRU) / TPS] / number of days in the month

Where: TMP is the Total Monthly Potable Water Production
PRU is the Percent Residential Use
TPS is the Total Population Served


What is the compliance period for the required reductions?

To determine if urban water suppliers are meeting required use reductions, water production data, as reported by each individual water supplier for the months of June 2015 through February 2016, will be compared to the same period(s) in 2013. Given the severity of the current drought, compliance will be assessed both on a monthly and a cumulative basis under the emergency regulation.


What are the requirements for small water suppliers?

Small water suppliers must limit outdoor landscape irrigation to no more than two days per week or reduce total potable water production by 25 percent, as compared to the amount produced in 2013. Small water suppliers are also required to submit a one-time report to the State Water Board on December 15, 2015.


What are the reporting requirements for urban water suppliers And Small Water Suppliers?

The emergency regulation requires urban water suppliers to report:

  • Monthly total potable water production;
  • Residential gallons per capita per day (R-GPCD);
  • Contributions of the commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) sector; and
  • Compliance and enforcement efforts.

The emergency regulation includes a one-time report for water suppliers serving 15 - 2999 water connections (currently not required to submit monthly reports). Small water suppliers are required to report either:

  • Total potable water production, by month, from June through November 2015, and total potable water production, by month, for June through November 2013; or
  • Confirmation that the supplier is limiting outdoor irrigation to no more than two days per week.

Is An Urban Water Supplier Still Subject To The Urban Water Supplier Requirements If It Reduces Service Connections To Less Than 3,000?

Yes. Urban water suppliers whose service connections fall below 3,000 connections during the compliance period are not re-designated as a small water supplier for purposes of achieving the conservation standard.


Is An Urban Water Supplier Still Subject to the Urban Water Supplier Requirements If It Lowers Water Production To Less Than 3,000 AF?

Yes. Urban water suppliers whose total potable water production falls below 3,000 acre-feet as a result of implementing conservation actions are not re-designated as small water suppliers for purposes of achieving the conservation standard at this time.


Who will enforce the required reductions in water use?

The State Water Board is primarily responsible for enforcing the required reductions in water use. The emergency regulation includes two additional enforcement tools that could be used alone, or in combination with other tools, to address the following compliance problems:

  • Failure of water suppliers to file reports as required by the regulation;
  • Failure to implement prohibitions and restrictions as described in the Governor's executive orders and the emergency regulation; and
  • Failure of water suppliers to meet the assigned water use conservation standard.

Violations of prohibited and restricted activities are considered infractions and are punishable by fines of up to $500 for each day in which the violation occurs. Any peace officer or employee of a public agency charged with enforcing laws and authorized to do so by ordinance may issue a citation to the violator. In many areas, local water suppliers have additional compliance and enforcement authorities that will continue to be used to address water waste.


Does the emergency regulation affect private or public swimming pools?

No. The emergency regulation does not prohibit the filling of private or public swimming pools. However, water suppliers will decide how to meet their conservation standards, which could include limitations on the filling of swimming pools. Contact your water supplier to learn more about local conservation actions.


If I live in a hot climate, will I have enough water to maintain my landscaping?

In this fourth year of devastating drought conditions, many Californians will have to make real lifestyle changes in order to conserve water for what could be an extended drought. We cannot predict what the next rainy season will bring. To preserve water to meet basic indoor needs such as toilet flushing, showers, clothes washing, food preparation, and cleanup, outdoor water use will have to be substantially reduced. On average, 50 percent of residential water use in California is used for outdoor landscaping, particularly ornamental turf, in some places it is far more. Residents in hotter climates use more water. Residents in warmer regions of the state are encouraged to convert to a drought tolerant landscape when cooler weather and rains arrive in the fall if they can; however, summertime watering will need to be greatly reduced in order to reduce statewide potable urban water usage by 25 percent. Keeping trees alive and letting ornamental turf go golden is strongly encouraged. For tips on how to conserve water, visit SaveOurWater.com.


Do local government jurisdictions (e.g., cities and counties) have to report on their water use and conservation efforts?

The 25 percent potable urban water use reduction requirement and associated reporting applies to water suppliers, not subdivisions of local government.


How will the ban on new sprinklers - other than drip or microspray - be implemented?

The Governor's April 1, 2015 Executive Order prohibits irrigation with potable water "outside of newly constructed homes and buildings" unless drip or microspray irrigation is used. This prohibition does not extend to new athletic fields and parks but is instead directed at ornamental landscapes associated with newly constructed homes and buildings. The state Buildings Standards Commission adopted emergency regulations to implement this prohibition effective June 2015; eliminating confusion about what standards builders have to comply with regarding this prohibition. It is not the intent of this prohibition to require replacement of irrigation systems that are already in place based on issued building permits and contracts for sale. The Commission’s informational bulletin provides links to each emergency standard covering nonresidential, residential, educational and health facilities.


How is a "median" defined?

The emergency regulation prohibits "irrigation with potable water outside of ornamental turf on public street medians." The emergency regulation does not include a specific definition of a median, but a median is commonly considered to be a strip of land between street lanes. In some cases, discretion and reasonable judgment will need to be exercised in determining whether certain areas are considered medians and subject to a regulation adopted by the State Water Board. Urban water suppliers and municipalities are urged to stop irrigating other non-functional ornamental turf, such as strips bordering street lanes. In addition, we are focused only on ornamental turf and encourage the irrigation and preservation of trees.


How is "measurable rainfall" defined?

The emergency regulation prohibits "the application of potable water to outdoor landscapes during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall." The emergency regulation does not include a specific definition of measurable rainfall. The local water supplier and individuals will need to exercise discretion and reasonable judgment to determine whether a specific precipitation event triggers the prohibition. At a minimum any amount of rainfall that generates run-off or puddles should be considered measurable. Nothing in the emergency regulation prevents a water supplier from developing/adopting a definition of measurable rainfall for their service area.


Is there an exception for urban water suppliers that provide water to commercial agriculture?

Yes. Urban water suppliers delivering potable water to commercial agriculture may be allowed to modify the amount of water subject to their conservation standard. To be eligible, urban water suppliers must do all of the following:

  • Provide written certification to the State Water Board to be able to subtract the water supplied to commercial agriculture from their total potable water production for baseline conservation purposes;
  • Impose water use reductions for commercial agricultural users served by the supplier;
  • Report the amount of water supplied for commercial agricultural use monthly; and
  • Comply with the Agricultural Management Plan requirement in the Governor's April 1, 2015 Executive Order.

Is credit given for investments in recycled water and desalination?

No. No credits are given for new sources of potable water supply during the drought emergency. Given the immediate need to extend our water resources, all attention is focused on reducing the use of potable water supplies, regardless of their source. Every drop of potable water saved today improves California's ability to weather a possible fifth year of dry conditions. Recycled water that is used to recharge potable groundwater aquifers (called indirect potable reuse) and desalinated water are sources of supply that must also be protected and extended. Investments in indirect potable reuse technology and desalination are a key part of diversifying local supply options and critical for a water resilient future. State Water Board staff will meet with water suppliers to discuss whether credits are an appropriate tool for future permanent or extended emergency conservation regulations to come


How should a water supplier address new connections that increase Total Potable Water Production during the timeframe of the regulation?

With the limitation on the duration of the emergency regulation to 270 days, water suppliers should account for increased water use due to future building activity in their identification and implementation of conservation actions to achieve the conservation standard for their service area. For example, some agencies have used an offset system, where new buildings retrofit older buildings to achieve water savings equal to or greater than the use they propose to add.


How will increases in Total Potable Water Production in response to firefighting activities be considered In Assessing compliance?

Water suppliers that are significantly off-track in meeting their conservation standard will be directed to submit information on their conservation actions, rates and pricing and enforcement efforts to determine the actions needed to come into compliance. The State Water Board will assess this information, including factors beyond the water supplier's control, as it considers next steps.


How Does The State Water Board Plan To Implement Provision 8 Of The Executive Order?

Provision 8 of the Governor's April 1, 2015 Executive Order directs the State Water Board to work with water agencies and state agencies to identify mechanisms that will encourage the adoption of rate structures and other pricing mechanisms to maximize conservation. The State Water Board is currently engaging with state agencies, water suppliers, and other stakeholders to address the financial, technical, political, and legal challenges associated with changing rates, surcharges, and other fees. As one element of its implementation, the State Water Board will provide resources to facilitate the development and enhancement of water rate structures that encourage efficient water use. These resources, and information on implementation of Provision 8, are available at the Water Board's Conservation Water Pricing website at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/pricing/.


How will the State determine what constitutes an underserved community for funding landscape rebates?

Contact the Department of Water Resources for questions regarding actions directed to the Department in the Governor's April 1, 2015 Executive Order.


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