Water Conservation Portal - FAQ
Water Supplier Topics
As required by California Code of Regulations, title 23, section 991, subdivision (b), there are two potential triggers for the requirement to complete the additional questions in the monthly conservation reports:
- The governor declares a drought emergency that applies to all or a portion of your service area; and
- When you have invoked a water shortage level consistent with Water Code section 10632 to respond to a shortage of greater than ten percent.
In April 2021, Governor Newsom signed a State of Emergency Proclamation declaring drought emergency in Sonoma and Mendocino counties and the Russian River watershed. In May 2021, a new proclamation expanded the drought emergency to cover an additional 39 counties. On July 8, 2021, Executive Order N-10-21 expanded the drought emergency declarations to nine more counties (Inyo, Marin, Mono, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz).
Accordingly, any urban water supplier who services any of the counties included in the emergency proclamations, and any urban water suppliers who have invoked a water shortage level in response to a shortage of greater than 10%, are required to complete the "Drought Response Questions" as part of the monthly conservation reports.
Yes, monthly reporting is mandatory effective October 1, 2020. The State Water Board adopted a regulation on April 21, 2020, which requires Urban Water Suppliers to submit a monthly report to the State Water Board. An “Urban water supplier” is a supplier that meets the definition set forth in Water Code section 10617, unless it is functioning solely in a wholesale capacity.
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. Urban water suppliers will report their water production figures for a given month to the Board by the 28th of the subsequent month. The State Water Board will post those numbers in the updated Excel spreadsheet following the first Board meeting of the month following the report submittal (i.e., January data is submitted in late February and posted in early March). Check this webpage for current information: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/conservation_portal/conservation_reporting.shtml
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 2,400 small water suppliers through the state.
An “Urban water supplier” is a supplier that meets the definition set forth in Water Code section 10617, unless it is functioning solely in a wholesale capacity.
Yes, if a supplier operates multiple small systems under the same governance structure (e.g., district, municipality, county) that cumulatively serve more than 3,000 service connections or deliver more than 3,000 acre-feet of water in a year, that supplier is considered an Urban Water Supplier.
Urban Retail Water Suppliers should report on every system they serve in a retail capacity, even if that system serves less than 3,000 service connections or delivers less than 3,000 acre-feet.
R-GPCD is a calculated number intended to indicate the water used by the residential customers served by a water supplier, reflected in gallons of water per person per day. As of October 1st, 2020, the R-GPCD value is automatically calculated in the reporting tool based on reported production (excluding commercial agriculture), population, and percentage residential use.
The equation can be written as:
TMP is the Total Monthly Potable Water Production (excluding commercial agriculture), in gallons
PRU is the Percentage Residential Use
TPS is the Total Population served
Days is the number of days in the reporting month
A more detailed explanation of the R-GPCD calculation method can be found at the following page: PRU and R-GPCD Calculation
Urban water suppliers may continue to submit monthly conservation reports by the 28th of each month, using the same on-line tool as in prior months: https://drinc.ca.gov/drinc/. The State Water Board has also posted directions regarding completion of the form at https://drinc.ca.gov/drinc/guidance_accessible.pdf.
Only urban water suppliers are required to provide these specific monthly conservation and production reports. Smaller suppliers have reporting requirements through other programs such as the Division of Drinking Water’s Electronic Annual Reporting (eAR) that occurs each spring.
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.
Using either your data for billed production or metered potable water production is acceptable as long as you are consistent over time. See the guidance here. When calculating PRU, we recommend using billing data to determine the volume of water provided to residential customers as a percentage of Total Monthly Potable Water Production. In cases where billing periods are not based on calendar months, the urban water supplier should use discretion in selecting the most comparable and appropriate billing period. PRU, rather than residential use volume, is requested in the monthly conservation report because it can be calculated using the previous year’s data if current billing data are not available.
Yes. All reporters will be able to see all reports submitted for their agency after they have submitted at least one report on behalf of their agency.
No, you do not need to re-register.
The preliminary population value is intended for reporters who need extra time to estimate the population. Some reasons for using a preliminary population value might include seasonal fluctuations (e.g., accounting for vacationers) or other factors not captured in the “average” population number. Reporters that do not update their preliminary population values after 90 days will receive a follow up email from a State Water Board staff member.
Yes. We understand that it is difficult to obtain an exact population count and that reporters may utilize different methods for determining that number. If you do not anticipate changing the reported value and are confident as to its accuracy, enter that number in the “Final Value” column.
If, after three months, values reported as preliminary have not been finalized, a State Water Board staff person will follow-up by email. A final value should be submitted once there is current data available to complete the mandatory fields. Please remember final values can be updated at any time.
Yes, the population from the Urban Water Management plan is one of the accepted methods for reporting population. However, if your service area has experienced a significant change in the number of customer accounts since the most recent UWMP, please use one of the other methods listed in the guidance to report an updated estimate.
The regulation now requires Urban Water Suppliers to provide an “expanded monitoring report” when the Governor declares a drought emergency or when an urban water supplier invokes a water shortage level to respond to a shortage of greater than ten percent, consistent with Water Code section 10632. What does the expanded monitoring report include?
The expanded monitoring report shall include the following information:
- Descriptive statistics on the urban water supplier’s achievement of its water contingency plan response actions, including supply augmentation, if any, and progress toward achieving a reduction in water consumption associated with the urban water supplier’s existing water shortage response action level;
- Communication actions;
- Compliance and enforcement actions.
Will an Urban Water Supplier be required to submit an expanded monitoring report when it voluntarily invokes a water shortage level corresponding to a shortage of greater than ten percent-- I.e., when the URWS is not actually experiencing a water shortage of greater than ten percent or there is no applicable declared drought emergency?
No. If the supplier has not invoked a water shortage response action level specifically to avert shortage conditions by requiring certain actions (e.g., limiting outdoor use), the supplier does not need to provide an expanded monitoring report.
- In calculating total potable water production, a supplier should include water purchased from wholesalers; a supplier should exclude water sold to other suppliers. Per new section 990, subdivision (f): “’Total potable water production‘ means all potable water that enters into a water supplier’s distribution system, excluding water placed into storage and not withdrawn for use during the reporting period and excluding water exported outsider the supplier’s service area during the reporting period. Total Potable Water Production also includes all non-revenue waters.”
- In the eAR, suppliers report water produced, purchased, and sold in Table 5a. In calculating total potable water production for the monthly production and conservation reports, UWS should include, as applicable, “water produced from groundwater wells,” “water produced from surface water,” and “water received from another public water system,” i.e., columns C, D, and E in Table 5a.
Per the American Water Works Association (AWWA), non-revenue water is equal to the sum of water losses, unbilled metered water, and unbilled unmetered water. Water Code Section 10608.34, subdivision (b) requires Urban Retail Water Suppliers to submit an annual water audit report in accordance with AWWA’s Water Audits and Loss Control Programs, Manual M36. With the data input by the supplier, AWWA’s free water audit software (Version 5) calculates non-revenue water.
Yes, suppliers may voluntarily report potable and non-potable recycled water use.
Per new section 991, subdivision (a)(1), UWS are now required to report the public water system identification (PWSID) of each system their agency owns or operates. However, suppliers will continue to report aggregated numbers (e.g., population across their service area, total production for all systems, etc.) for their agency, as they have been doing.
There are several possible resources for identifying the Public Water System Identification (PWSIDs) associated with your agency:
- The Drinking Water Watch Tool: https://sdwis.waterboards.ca.gov/PDWW/index.jsp
- The Division of Drinking Water field office for your region: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/programs/districts/
- 2015 Urban Water Management Plan, Table 2-1: Public Water Systems.
The spreadsheet is available here: https://wuedata.water.ca.gov/uwmp_export.asp
- Please note that these PWSIDs may not be current due to consolidation or a change in ownership; if you think information here may not be current, we highly recommend contacting the person or persons responsible for this section of the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan.
Please email ORPP-WaterConservation@Waterboards.ca.gov to request a copy of the webinar slides. The presentation slides will be emailed to you.
The State Water Board currently does not have an option for suppliers to export the data through the DRINC portal. However, anyone can download the statewide dataset from our public website.
This option is not available at this time. Eventually, the State Water Board will use an integrated data reporting system that allows equivalent data to be automatically uploaded from the monthly production and conservation reports to other State Water Board surveys such as the eAR.
The 2013 value is no longer required to be reported. We maintain this value in the database as a legacy variable and it will be released in the final raw dataset. If the reported 2013 value is inaccurate, please contact Marielle Pinheiro via email at Marielle.Pinheiro@waterboards.ca.gov to request a correction to this value.
If an UWS is not experiencing a water shortage of greater than 10 percent or if the Governor has not declared a drought emergency, an UWS shall report the following:
If an UWS is not experiencing a water shortage of greater than 10 percent or if the Governor has not declared a drought emergency, an UWS shall report the following:
- The urban water supplier’s public water system identification number(s).
- The urban water supplier’s volume of total potable water production, including water provided by a wholesaler, in the preceding calendar month;
- The population served by the urban water supplier during the reporting period;
- The percent residential use that occurred during the reporting period; and
- The water shortage response action level.
The reporting form also asks UWS to voluntarily provide the following:
- Water used by the Commercial, Institutional, and Industrial (CII) customers during the reporting period;
- Water used by the Agricultural customers during the reporting period;
- Recycled water used during the reporting period; and
- Non-revenue water during the reporting period.
The reporting tool provides the following options in the units drop-down menu:
- Acre-feet (AF),
- Gallons (G),
- Million Gallons (MG), and
- Hundred Cubic Feet (CCF).
Urban Water Suppliers are required to report the volume of “total potable water production,” not raw water. Per new section 990, subdivision (f): “’Total potable water production‘ means all potable water that enters into a water supplier’s distribution system, excluding water placed into storage and not withdrawn for use during the reporting period and excluding water exported outsider the supplier’s service area during the reporting period. Total Potable Water Production also includes all non-revenue waters.”
The Handbook of Water Use and Conservation defines residential water use as “water use in homes (e.g., for drinking, food preparation, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, flushing toilets, and watering lawns and gardens). To facilitate data streamlining, an UWS should report residential water use in the monthly production and conservation reports in the same manner as the agency reports it in the electronic Annual Report (eAR). The eAR uses the following definitions:
- Single-family Residential: Single-family detached dwellings
- Multi-family Residential: Apartments, condominiums, town houses, duplexes and trailer parks
- Commercial/Institutional: Retail establishments, office buildings, laundries, schools, prisons, hospitals, dormitories, nursing homes, hotels, churches, campgrounds
- Industrial: All manufacturing
- Landscape Irrigation: Parks, play fields, cemeteries, median strips, golf courses
- Agricultural Irrigation: Irrigation of commercially-grown crops.
Per new section 991, subdivision (a)(4), UWS shall report the “percent residential use that occurred in the reporting period.” Per section 990, subdivision (e) “Percent residential use” is calculated by dividing the amount of water provided to the residential sector for the reporting month (not including non-revenue water) by the total potable water production for the reporting month. If a supplier was previously unable to include some fraction of residential water use and now can, we support updating prior reports to reflect that correction. Note the reason for such changes in qualification field at the end of the reporting form. If a lengthier explanation is required, e-mail ORPP-WaterConservation@Waterboards.ca.gov.
Low-Income Rate Assistance Program (AB401, 2015)
Assembly Bill 401 (Dodd, 2015) directs the State Water Board to prepare a plan, with the State Board of Equalization, that covers funding and implementation of a Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program. This Plan is due by January 1, 2018. Additionally, AB 401 directs the State Water Board to report to the Legislature by February 1, 2018 on its findings regarding the feasibility, financial stability, and desired structure of the program, including any recommendations for legislative action. The report has been delayed will be release in 2018. Go HERE for more information.
Regulation on Waste and Unreasonable Water Uses - Current
Some of the prohibitions on wasteful water use practices that were put in place on a temporary basis during the drought are critical to water resilience. Water is a precious and finite resource that should never be wasted. California droughts are becoming more frequent and persistent, as warmer winter temperatures driven by climate change reduce water held in the Sierra Nevada snowpack and result in drier soil conditions.
The proposed regulation would advance the California Water Action Plan, which laid the roadmap to Make Water Conservation A California Way of Life.
The proposed regulation would also implement directives of Executive Orders B-37-16 and B-40-17, which, to eliminate water waste, directed the State Water Board to permanently prohibit certain wasteful water use practices.
The State Water Board first adopted drought emergency conservation regulations in July 2014. Included in these regulations were prohibitions against certain wasteful water use practices. The Board readopted the emergency regulations several times, most recently in February 2017. These remained in place until November 25, 2017. The proposed regulation includes prohibitions similar to those that the Board adopted during the drought emergency (Fact Sheet). There are several differences from the most recent drought emergency prohibitions, including:
- For the provision prohibiting the irrigation of turf on medians and parkways [§ 963(b)(1)(G)], the State Water Board has proposed several changes, including granting communities more time to comply, only affecting publically-owned and maintained medians and parkways, grandfathering-in turf currently irrigated with recycled water, exempting the irrigation of turf under trees, and giving examples of community and neighborhood functions. The proposed revision would read as follows:
- As of January 1, 2025, the irrigation of turf on public street medians or publically owned and maintained landscaped areas between the street and sidewalk, except where: (G)(i) the turf serves a community or neighborhood function, including, but not limited to, recreational uses and civic or community events; or (G)(ii) the turf is irrigated incidentally by an irrigation system, the primary purpose of which is the irrigation of trees; or (G)(iii) the turf is irrigated with recycled water through an irrigation system installed prior to January 1, 2018.
- For the provision prohibiting irrigation during and after rainfall [§ 963(b)(1)(E)], the State Water Board has proposed defining measurable as one-fourth of one inch of rain, which is an appreciable amount of rain. The proposed revision would read as follows:
- The application of water to irrigate turf and ornamental landscapes during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall of at least one-fourth of one inch of rain. In determining whether measurable rainfall of at least one-fourth of one inch of rain occurred in a given area, enforcement may be based on records of the National Weather Service, the closest CIMIS station to the parcel, or any other reliable source of rainfall data available to the entity undertaking enforcement of this subdivision.
- For the provision prohibiting the serving of drinking water, unless upon request [§ 963(b)(1)(F)], the State Water Board has proposed that the prohibition only be in-effect during a declared drought emergency. The State Water Board has proposed this revised language:
- The serving of drinking water other than upon request in eating or drinking establishments, including but not limited to restaurants, hotels, cafes, cafeterias, bars, or other public places where food or drink are served or purchased, during a period for which the Governor has issued a proclamation of a state of emergency under the California Emergency Services Act (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 8550) of Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code) based on drought conditions.
- For the provision affecting runoff [§ 963(b)(1)(A)], the State Water Board has omitted the word potable and added the phrase “more than incidental” so that the revised provision reads as follows:
- The application of water to outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes more than incidental runoff such that water flows onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, or structures.
- For the provision affecting fountains [§ 963(b)(1)(D)], the State Water Board added an exemption for fountains registered on the National Register of Historic Places. The revised provision reads as follows:
- The use of potable water in an ornamental fountain or other decorative water feature, except where: (D)(i) the water is part of a recirculating system; or (D)(ii) the fountain is registered on the National Register of Historic Places.
- For the provision affecting residential car washing, the State Water Board omitted the word potable. The provision, unchanged since the proposed regulatory text was first circulated in November 2017, reads as follows:
- The use of a hose that dispenses water to wash a motor vehicle, except where the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle or device attached to it that causes it to cease dispensing water immediately when not in use.
Yes, there are three proposed general exemptions that apply to all of the prohibitions: 1) If there is a public health or safety reason to continue the activity, e.g., to wash down a sidewalk or driveway to remove pathogenic waste; 2) If other state or federal permits require the activity; and 3) If water is used exclusively for commercial agricultural purposes. There are also a few specific exemptions that apply to individual prohibitions (see the provisions that cover fountains, median and 'parkways,' and the serving of drinking water).
The Water Board has included the "health and safety" exemption to allow the otherwise prohibited water use practices to address reasonable and legitimate healthy and safety needs. Here are examples of activities where water applications may be necessary to address a health or safety need: controlling dust, suppressing fires, removing pathogenic waste from sidewalks (e.g., animal waste). The Water Board has included the "health and safety" exemption to allow the otherwise prohibited wasteful water use practices to address reasonable and legitimate healthy and safety needs.
Incidental runoff refers to a minimal amount of irrigation water that escapes the area of intended use. This may include minor windblown overspray or mist extending onto sidewalks within a park or minimal runoff from watering trees.
The regulation affects ornamental fountains and decorative water features. The regulation does not affect recreational fountains and water features, such as splash parks. It also does not affect historic fountains on the National Register of Historic Places. Similarly, fountains and splash parks for which there is a legitimate health and safety need for non-recycled or recirculated water, such as fountains that the public are expected to come in contact with and may drink from, are not covered by the prohibition.
No, the regulation does not prohibit the washing of buildings, either with potable water or with recycled water.
The closest weather station or reliable rain gauge may be used to measure rainfall. Furthermore, ¼ inch of rain is enough rain that it can be reasonably forecasted as well as adequately seen on the ground such that an irrigation system can be adjusted appropriately. Nothing in the emergency regulation prevents a water supplier from developing or adopting a more limiting definition of measurable rainfall for their service area.
The prohibition on serving drinking water during a drought emergency applies for drought emergencies issued by the Governor. Check with your local water agency for information on local drought emergencies.
In some instances, irrigating turf on medians provides functional and recreational benefits. For example, in Sacramento, the Capitol Mall is a wide median covered in turf. Concerts, public gatherings, and farmers’ markets occur on Capitol Mall. Another example where irrigated turf on medians or parkways serves a community function is in pocket parks, where the turf provides a place for picnicking, and sports, or other exercise, e.g., Electric Avenue Median Park in Seal Beach. The regulation would not obligate a public agency to irrigate such turf. If, for example, the City of Sacramento wanted to let the turf on Capitol Mall go "California gold" during the hotter months, the regulation would allow for irrigation necessary to maintain that turf at the discretion of the local public agency.
Generally, local land use authorities (e.g. the City or County) will make that determination. A key consideration is whether the turf must be irrigated to provide functional (e.g., a place to hold events) or recreational (e.g., a place for sports and exercise) benefits. Aesthetics alone are not a community or neighborhood function. Many attractive low-water options exist for landscaping medians and parkways.
Yes. The revised proposed regulation allows the incidental irrigation of turf while irrigating trees. Trees provide many social and environmental benefits, such as shade, carbon sequestration, and habitat. Urban trees also reduce energy use by shading buildings, reduce heat island effects and associated health impacts, absorb and filter storm runoff and urban flooding, and protect air quality.
The proposed regulation would not require any particular landscaping changes, including planting new trees on medians or parkways. However, there are programs that provide funding for planting new trees that the State Water Board encourages public agencies to look into if they are contemplating landscape changes in response to the proposed regulation. Climate-appropriate trees not only provide the aforementioned benefits, they also, once established, generally require less water than other trees.
Yes. Some state granting funding is available to help finance tree planting projects. State agencies such as the Water Board, the Natural Resources Agency, the Department of Water Resources and CalFire provide funding for planting trees. So do many local governments and organizations such as ReLeaf or TreePeople.
The effective date in 2025 provides several years for a public entity to make any desired changes to a median or parkway that may entail expense and time. Changes could include planting a low-water alternative to turf or planting trees, if so desired. The State Water Board encourages the planting of climate-appropriate trees. These trees generally require less water than other trees.
Yes, for recycled water irrigation systems installed prior to January 1, 2018. The revised proposed regulation exempts existing recycled systems, but not new ones.
Yes, provided these landscapes are not turf and are designed to use minimal or no irrigation.
Check with your local water agency or report water waste at this webpage: http://www.savewater.ca.gov/
Current law allows public agencies to enforce their own conservation ordinances and rules and drought emergency rules adopted by the State Water Board and, during the recent drought, public entities enforced prohibitions against wasteful water uses. Because the proposed regulation is not a drought emergency regulation, at this time enforcement of the proposed regulation could only come from the State Water Board. Local public agencies can enforce their own conservation rules and modify those rules to mirror the proposed prohibitions, in which case they would be able to enforce those prohibitions. Proposed legislation (SB 606), however, would allow for public agencies to enforce certain rules, such as the prohibitions contained in the proposed regulation, in the same manner they could for the Board’s drought emergency regulations.