Electronic Annual Report (EAR)

The Electronic Annual Report (EAR) is a survey of public water systems, currently required annually, to collect critical water system information intended to assess the status of compliance with specific regulatory requirements such as source water capacity, provides updated contact and inventory information (such as population and number of service connections), and provides information that is used to assess the financial capacity of water systems, among other information reported. The areas for which information is required to be reported is listed in Table 1.

 

2020 EAR Schedule
(Applies to all public water systems)
2020 EAR Release Date: March 15, 2021
2020 EAR Submission Deadline: May 15, 2021
2020 EAR Technical Assistance Request Deadline: April 20, 2021

Table 1: EAR Survey Sections

Section Number/Name Section Description
Section 1. Introduction Provides water system information (e.g., System Number, Name, Classification, Ownership) and physical location; EAR reporter contact information; Disadvantaged (DAC) status request or recertification for reduced annual fees
Section 2. Contacts Maintain name, title, address, phone and email for various point of contact types
Section 3. Population Update population and annual operating period
Section 4. Connections Update service connection counts by types and metering status; Urban Water Supplier (UWS) outdoor irrigation connections or indoor submeters
Section 5. Sources Large Water System (LWS) source counts or Small Water System (SWS) source list by type (SWS and NC); Standby Sources; Interties; Metering and Levels Monitoring
Section 6. Water Supplied and Delivered Streamlined Reporting; volume of potable water produced, purchased, sold, or transferred; Max day and volumes by type; Volume of non-potable and recycled water. Volumes are reported by month and type
Section 7. Recycled Water Recycled Water (RW) number of use sites, RW Coordinator name; Pressure tests, and on-site supervision status
Section 8a. Customer Charges Residential and non-residential customer charges, rate structures, and other service fees borne by customers to support the water system.
Section 8b. Income (NEW) Annual revenues and incurred expenses. This information is used to assess the financial resiliency of water systems.
Section 8c. Water Affordability Residential shut-offs due to non-payment; information, if any, on customer assistance programs designed to address customer affordability challenges.
Section 9. Water Quality Emergency Notification Plan (WQENP) status; Direct/indirect additives; NSF/ANSI standard 61 certification for Indirect Additives; Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) status
Section 10. Backflow Status of testing backflow prevention assemblies; Cross Connection Control Program Coordinator name
Section 11. Operator Certification Distribution System (DS)Operator compliance; including grid of operators with their certification number and expiration date.
Section 12. Improvements Improvements and modifications to treatment or distribution system completed in 2020 or planned for 2021
Section 13. Complaints Summary of complaints reported by customers, investigated by Water System, and reported to DDW or LPAs; Complaint Descriptions by Type
Section 14. Treatment Lists of groundwater and surface water treatment plants, including chlorination only, treatment process, date of operations plan, and contaminant removed; Emergency Disinfection Plan and Watershed Sanitary Survey status.
Section 15. Distribution Summaries of system problems; infrastructure and pipeline materials; dead-end flushing; flushing volumes; valve exercise program; storage tanks or reservoir inspection and cleaning program status.
Section 16. Emergency Auxiliary Power Supply; Emergency Response Plans (ERP); interest in water partnerships or consolidation.
Section 17. Conservation Drought Preparedness or Water Shortage Contingency Plan; Water Shortage Reporting; Urban Water Supplier (UWS) Conservation Program information; Water rate or allocation variances or adjustments to customers; Potable reuse incentive.
Section 18. Climate Change Climate Threats, Sensitivity, and Magnitude of Impacts; Adaptation Measures
Section 19. Lead Service Line Lead Service Line Replacement; Upload Replacement Timeline letter (LTR) or spreadsheet (SS)
Section 20. Acknowledge Reporter(s) error report; Report Disclosure; Number of Hours; Submitting EAR Reporter

The “Annual Report to the Drinking Water Program” was started in the mid-1980’s as a hard copy report submitted to the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) district offices.  The DDW field staff and local primacy agencies (LPAs) have used this information in the conduct of sanitary surveys of public water systems.  There is a Large Water System and Small Water System survey, based on system size at the cutoff of 1,000 service connections or 3,000 population.  Within the report, specific sections are identified as pertaining to only certain identified public water systems, based on classification, size or identification as an urban water supplier.

The electronic version of the Annual Report, dubbed the ‘EAR’, was first implemented in 2009 with large water systems, and with all public water systems in 2010.  The EAR survey collects data for the prior calendar year, generally during the February-March period the following year.

Changes to the EAR Survey

In 2020, the Water Board began a multi-year effort to improve the EAR survey to combine the large and small water system EAR surveys, provide additional functionality, integrate data validations, and improve the EAR user experience through the use of hide and show features and ultimately to separate out some sections into individual stand-alone surveys. This new EAR survey will be first implemented for the 2020 EAR, for which public water systems conduct reporting in early 2021. There will be continued advancements of this modernization process to improve the user experience and refine frequency for which public water systems would be required to report certain information.

EAR Data

The data compiled from the EAR is published for the years 2013 to present and can be found here.  Data for each new reporting year will be published within 90 days of the close of the reporting period.  Data from 2009 to 2013 is not available in a format that can be reconciled with the 2013-present data, so is not currently available on the EAR website.

Additional information on the uses of EAR data:

EAR Input Forum

In 2018 the EAR Input Forum was formed to inform the Water Board on the impact of changes to the EAR on public water system business practices, data availability and data quality.  This group is made up of public water systems, water industry organization and non-governmental organization representatives. The Water Board  engages the EAR Input Forum annually to review proposed changes to the EAR and solicit feedback on the structure of questions to ensure meaningful and accurate data is gathered.

For the 2020 EAR survey development, the Water Board hosted meetings with the EAR Input Forum in August and November 2020.  Comments from the EAR Input Forum on the proposed changes to the 2020 EAR survey were received following the August 2020 meeting.  The comments from each entity has been summarized and Water Board responses as to the feasibility of implementing any proposed changes were provided.  A summary of key comments and the Water Board responses can be found here, as listed by commenter name.

Table 2: 2020 EAR Input Forum Comments/Responses

2020 EAR Commenter Link to Comments
Association of California Water Agencies ACWA Comment Summary
California Municipal Utilities Association CMUA Comment Summary
California Water Association CWA Comment Summary
Department of Water Resources DWR Comment Summary
Desert Water Agency DWA Comment Summary
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power LADWP Comment Summary
Placer County Water Authority PCWA Comment Summary
San Juan Water District SJWD Comment Summary
Joint comments from: Community Water Center, Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability, California Coastkeeper Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pacific Institute, Clean Water Action Joint Comments Summary