Drought and Conservation Information
Much of the West is experiencing severe to exceptional drought and California is in a second consecutive year of dry conditions, resulting in widespread drought or near-drought throughout many portions of the state. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is actively responding to current drought conditions and preparing for the possibility of a third dry year.
According to the United States Drought Monitor, the map for California is shown below:
Calling on Investor-Owned Utilities to Encourage Voluntary Conservation: The Commission is calling on the Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) to make all Californians aware of dry conditions and encourage actions to reduce water usage. (July 8, 2021 - Letter here; June 8, 2021 - Letter here; June 9, 2021 - Press Release here)
Participating in the Interagency Drought Team: President Marybel Batjer and CPUC staff are members of the Governor's Office interagency drought team. This team will track changing conditions, coordinate state agency responses, and work closely with partners across the state.
Lessons Learned from the 2014-2015 Drought: The Water Division will remind the IOUs of best practices learned from the 2014-15 drought and potential actions and guidance for the IOUs to act on.
- Messaging to ratepayers: Potential actions for the IOUs include notifying customers of voluntary conservation measures through a bill insert, direct mailing, social media, or other communication channels.
- Encouraging voluntary conservation These voluntary conservation measures are outlined in Water Division's Standard Practice U-40 adopted previously in 2014 and reflect guidance on non-essential potable water usage.
Save Our Water Campaign: The Water Division will enhance communication efforts to promote water conservation by updating the drought and conservation portion of its website, elevating the Save Our Water campaign and updating links to sister agency websites.
Coordinating with Other State Agencies: The Water Division will coordinate with the Department of Water Resources, the State Water Resources Control Board, and other sister agencies on conservation messaging and ongoing dry conditions across the state.
Voluntary Measures for Conservation
A listing of voluntary water conservation measures that utility customers can act on as outlined in Tariff Rule 14.1 in accordance with SP-40 include:
- Use of potable water for more than minimal landscaping, as defined in the landscaping regulated of the jurisdiction or as described in Article 10.8 of the California Government Code in connection with new construction;
- Excessive use of water: when a utility has notified the customer in writing to repair a broken or defective plumbing, sprinkler, watering or irrigation system and the customer has failed to effect such repairs within five business days, the utility may install a flow restriction device;
- Use of potable water which results in flooding or runoff in gutters or streets;
- Individual private washing of cars with a hose except with the use of a positive action shut-off nozzle. Use of potable water for washing commercial aircraft, cars, buses, boats, trailers, or other commercial vehicles at any time, except at commercial or fleet vehicle or boat washing facilities operated at a fixed location where equipment using water is properly maintained to avoid wasteful use;
- Use of potable water for washing buildings, structures, driveways, patios, parking lots, tennis courts, or other hard-surfaced areas, except in the cases where health and safety are at risk;
- Use of potable water to irrigate turf, lawns, gardens, or ornamental landscaping by means other than drip irrigation, or hand watering without quick acting positive action shut-off nozzles, on a specific schedule, for example: 1) before 9:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m.; 2) every other day; or 3) selected days of the week;
- Use of potable water for street cleaning with trucks, except for initial wash-down for construction purposes (if street sweeping is not feasible), or to protect the health and safety of the public;
- Use of potable water for construction purposes, such as consolidation of backfill, dust control, or other uses unless no other source of water or other method can be used.
- Use of potable water for construction purposes unless no other source of water or other method can be used;
- Use of potable water for street cleaning;
- Operation of commercial car washes without recycling at least 50% of the potable water used per cycle;
- Use of potable water for watering outside plants, lawn, landscape and turf areas during certain hours if and when specified in Schedule No. 14.1 when the schedule is in effect;
- Use of potable water for decorative fountains or the filling or topping off of decorative lakes or ponds. Exceptions are made for those decorative fountains, lakes, or ponds which utilize recycled water;
- Use of potable water for the filling or refilling of swimming pools.
- Service of water by any restaurant except upon the request of a patron; and
- Use of potable water to flush hydrants, except where required for public health or safety.
Governor Executive Orders
References from 2014-15 Drought
- May 7, 2015: CPUC Orders Water Companies to Implement 25 Percent Conservation Measures in Response to Drought
- April 9, 2015: CPUC Orders Water Companies to Notify Customers of Drought Restrictions
- April 1, 2015: Governor Brown Directs First Ever Statewide Mandatory Water Reductions
- March 17, 2015: SWRCB amends and readopts Emergency Regulatory Action for Statewide Urban Water Conservation (Resolution No. 2015-0013)
- December 22, 2014: Governor Brown Issues Executive Order B-28-14
- August 14, 2014: CPUC Orders Water Utilities to Provide Notification to Customers of Water Use Restrictions and Potential Fines
- July 15, 2014: State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopts Emergency Regulatory Action for Statewide Urban Water Conservation (Resolution No. 2014-0038)
- April 25, 2014: Governor Brown Issues Executive Order to Redouble State Drought Actions
- February 28, 2014: CPUC Orders Water Companies to Call for Voluntary 20 Percent Water Use Reduction From Customers
- January 31, 2014: Governor Brown Issues Statement on State Water Project Allocations
- January 17, 2014: Governor Brown Declares Drought State of Emergency
- December 17, 2013: Governor Brown Convenes Drought Task Force