2015 Emergency Statewide Water Restrictions

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted on May 5, emergency regulation for statewide urban water conservation. In its most simple form, this regulation mandates a 25% reduction in potable urban water use statewide. This level of reduction amounts to 1.3 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months. It is expected these emergency regulations will go into effect on or near May 15 and will remain in effect for the remainder of 2015.

The emergency regulation imposes a mandatory reduction rate on each of California’s 411 urban water suppliers. Urban water suppliers are the water district or, in some cases, city utility which provides water and charges you for the service. The Board has created nine tiers of mandatory reduction ranging from 4% to 36% based on the water supplier’s current amount of water provided compared to 2013. If each water supplier meets it’s specific mandated reduction it will result in a statewide 25% reduction in water use. The mandated reduction amount for each water supplier is available here.

Each water supplier will decide how to meet their mandated reduction rate. It is expected that water suppliers will require both residential and commercial water users to reduce water usage. Specific actions by water suppliers is unknown and is likely to vary based on individual water supplier current water use and mix of end water users.

It is expected water suppliers will consider increased rates for heavy water users, users failing to make reductions, or users increasing their water use. We encourage you to reach out to your water supplier, the agency you pay for water at each store and corporate location, to learn more about their specific reduction approach.

It is important to note the State Water Board has recognized that commercial and industrial customers, which can account for a significant portion of total water use in a service area, have already taken steps to reduce their water consumption and may not be able reduce water use without substantial impacts.

The Board clarified in the hearing on the regulations that water use for public health and safety, such as compliance with food safety law, is not targeted for reduction due to the overriding importance of those activities. CGA encourages you to look for opportunities to reduce your company’s water use that do not impact health and safety activities.

Along with the mandated reduction for water suppliers the State Water Board has prohibited specific actions by end water users, which would include your store and corporate locations. These prohibited actions include:

• The application of potable water to landscaping that results in runoff.

• Washing of a vehicle without an automatic shut-off nozzle.

• Use of potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature.

• Application of potable water on driveways or sidewalks.

• Application of potable water to outdoor landscapes before and after measurable rainfall.

• Serving of drinking water other than upon request in public places where food and drink are served or purchased.

• Irrigation of public street medians with potable water.

• Irrigation of landscapes outside of newly constructed homes and buildings inconsistent with government regulations or requirements.

As water suppliers across California implement their mandatory reductions CGA suggests you contact the water supplier for your store and corporate locations to understand specific impacts for your company. Your water supplier will be the agency or city that you pay for water. CGA is contacting water suppliers across California and requesting they consider our industry’s unique water use needs while they develop their reduction strategies.

Please contact Tim James at tjames@cagrocers.com with any questions or for additional information. Source documents and water supplier information are linked below.

Emergency State Water Restrictions Resources