SB 606 and AB 1668 signed in 2018 and referred to as the Long-Term Framework legislation, are intended to make conservation a California way of life. The legislation tasked the California Department of Water Resource (DWR) with providing regulation recommendations to the State Water Resource Control Board (State Water Board) that include water use efficiency Standards, Variances and Performance Measures for urban retail water suppliers. The Standards and Performance Measures are intended to improve water efficiency at an urban retail water supplier level. Standards establish quantitative requirements that must be tracked and reported, whereas Performance Measures establish qualitative requirements that also must be reported. This background summarizes the State Water Board’s proposed regulation as released August 18, 2023. The first public comment period is open until October 17, 2023.
In total, three water use standards (indoor residential, outdoor residential and commercial, industrial and institutional dedicated irrigation meter (CII-DIM)) and one water loss standard, are used to calculate each respective efficient use volume. The sum of these volumes establishes an overall water budget, known as an Urban Water Use Objective (UWUO). Adjustments to an UWUO can be made via variances, temporary provisions, and/or a bonus incentive for potable reuse, where applicable per supplier.
Urban retail suppliers must calculate and comply with their UWUO by January 1, 2025, and every January 1st thereafter (see Equation 1). Suppliers that exceed their UWUO may be required by the State to enact policies and programs to achieve water savings. Additional enforcement measures include fines directly to the supplier no sooner than November 1, 2027.
Changes to the current statute will require additional/future legislative actions. Until that time, the current statute is what suppliers will be required to meet. Suppliers are required to submit an annual report to DWR no later than January 1, 2024. The report must include a supplier’s calculated UWUO as well as their annual water use for the prior state fiscal year, amongst other qualitative information. Additional reporting to the State Water Board is also included in the draft regulation.
CalWEP will be releasing 5 cut sheets in the coming weeks that dive into each UWUO standard (indoor, outdoor, CII DIM), the water loss threshold, and one covering the CII performance measures.
 Wholesale water providers are not subject to legislation requiring adherence to an Urban Water Use Objective.
 Any system owned and operated by a supplier that lacks data needed to calculate budgets to establish an UWUO can be excluded from the overall objective. Suppliers have until July 1, 2028, to obtain the requisite data for use in the 2030 reporting year.