Second Round of Proposed Regulation to Make Water Conservation a Way of Life Released

Published: March 19, 2024

The next round of the proposed regulation was released on May 20th, 2024. Learn more about those updates here.

Lisa Cuellar, Director of Programs - 3/18/2024

The State Water Board released their updates to the Making Conservation a California Way of Life regulation on March 12, 2024, and included several notable changes. For your convenience, CalWEP has summarized these changes below. The updated regulation can be accessed here.

A public workshop will be held on March 20th beginning at 9:00 AM at 1001 I Street, Sacramento (although remote participation is also an option). More details can be found on the State Board’s webpage here.

For those who would like to submit written comments, they must be received by the State Water Board no later than Wednesday, March 27th.  If you plan to email your comments they should be forwarded to: [email protected].  Be sure to include the following subject line: “Comment Letter – Proposed Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life.” Note that the State Water Board’s email system can only receive files up to 15 megabytes. For all other methods of transmittal please reference the Notice using the link above.

As a reminder, the sequence of milestones in this ongoing rulemaking process is below. Both the water loss standard and indoor residential standard have been adopted into law. The CII-DIM Standard and Outdoor Residential Standard, as well as other aspects of the regulation including Variances and an Alternative Compliance Pathway, remain part of this ongoing rulemaking.

    • Aug 2022: Water loss regulation adopted by the State Water Board
    • Sep 2022:
      • Indoor residential standards become law (SB 1157 signed)
      • DWR provides regulation recommendations to the State Water Board.
    • Aug 2023: The State Water Board issues its first draft proposed regulation. The official rulemaking process begins.
    • Mar 2024: The State Water Board issues its revised draft proposed regulation.

CalWEP has summarized some of the major changes below and included reference to the exact regulatory text. Note that these are not a comprehensive list of all changes made by the State Board.

The timeframe for ramping down the outdoor standards extended by 5 years.

Summary: Urban water suppliers will have an additional five years (2035 instead of 2030 as originally proposed) before the Landscape Efficiency Factor (LEF) decreases from 0.80 to 0.63, and another five years before reducing further to 0.55 for the outdoor residential standard and 0.45 for the CII-Dedicated Irrigation Meter (CII-DIM) standard.

Additionally, the definition of what qualifies as “Special Landscape Areas” (SLAs), and therefore the use of an LEF of 1.0, has expanded. Residential SLAs now include pools and spas, while CII-DIM SLAs include landscapes irrigated with recycled water.

Regulation Section: 968 (a)(1-3); 969 (a)(2-4); SLAs: 965 (bbb); 969 (a)(5)(F)


Suppliers can account for 20% of their irrigable, non-irrigated (INI) landscape area within their outdoor residential water budgets (with some caveats).

Summary: This 20% INI buffer can be factored into one’s outdoor residential water budget for suppliers who are over their Urban Water Use Objectives. This contingency is effective until the supplier’s residential landscape area measurement is updated (either by the supplier, the State, or some other party).

Regulation Section: 968 (b)(3)(B)(i)


Compliance with the objectives deferred until 2027.

Summary: Compliance and therefore enforcement actions by the State Water Board, will not be levied until 2027 according to this new draft of the regulation. However, there is also an enforcement timeline in statute. According to the legislation, the State Water Board may issue informational orders as early as 2024 and conservation orders as early as 2026. Legislation is currently being proposed that would extend the compliance dates in statute to better align with this proposal. Some clean-up may be needed.


Updated alternative compliance pathways made more accessible for certain suppliers facing large reductions.

Summary: If the median household income (MHI) of the population served by a supplier is less than the MHI for the State and this same supplier must reduce water usage by 20% or more to achieve their 2040 Urban Water Use Objective, they qualify for an “alternative compliance pathway”. Under such a pathway the supplier must demonstrate an annual 1% or more water usage reduction per capita and develop an implementation plan to come into compliance.

For other suppliers whose population’s MHI is greater than the State’s, but who must reduce usage by 30% or more by 2040, they can also pursue an “alternative compliance pathway” as long as they demonstrate at least 2% annual per capita reductions in usage, adhere to AWWA’s G480 standard, develop an implementation plan to come into compliance, and fulfill other obligations including increased support for disadvantaged communities, offering support for the installation and maintenance of “climate-ready landscapes”, and prioritization of tree health.

Regulation Section: 966 (i)(1-4); 966 (j)(1-4)

. . . . . . . .

In addition to the four major changes cited above, other revisions (including those to simplify and streamline performance measures and reporting) were also included in the State Water Board’s March proposed regulations. CalWEP has summarized some of these additional updates below. Again, for a comprehensive list of tracked changes see the link above for the updated regulation.

CII Classification approach and timeline

Summary: The proposal requires complete classification of all CII accounts using the U.S. EPA EnergyStar Portfolio Manager’s 18 categories (plus four additional categories), no later than 2027 with no rate of incremental progress reported, rather than 20% of CII accounts bi-annually through 2030 as proposed in the previous draft.

Regulation Section: 972

CII-DIM conversion threshold and timeline

Summary: The threshold for converting a CII mixed-use meter (MUM) to a DIM has been revised back to an area threshold and is set at one-half acre of landscape. The term “large landscapes” refers to MUM accounts with landscaped area that meets or exceeds the one-half acre threshold. Identification of all CII MUM accounts with large landscapes must be completed by June 30, 2027.  Alternatively, if suppliers wish to impose water budgets on CII large landscapes they have until June 30, 2029, to identify those with MUMs.

Further, rather than converting MUMs to DIMs (or installation of in-lieu technologies) for CII landscapes that exceed the one-half acre threshold at a rate of 20% bi-annually through 2030, the current proposal requires all interventions to be completed no later than 2039 with no rate of incremental progress proposed. This new timeline provides a 9-year extension for DIM installation and/or in-lieu technology deployment.

Regulation Section: 973

CII BMP Implementation approach and timeline

Summary: While the CII Performance Measures Best Management Practices (BMPs) are rather extensive as proposed, several noteworthy changes include the following (also see the summary matrix):

  • Top Water Users – Suppliers can choose between three tracks of BMP compliance for tackling the highest CII water users. Full implementation for all tracks must be completed no later than June 30, 2039. A description of each Tracks is as follows:
    • Track 1: By June 30, 2025, identify both the top 2.5% and 20% of top CII water users and implement a conservation program that includes at least two BMPs from each of five BMP categories cited in the regulations for the top 2.5% users and, one BMP from the same categories for those in the top 20%.
    • Track 2: By June 30, 2027, identify the top 2.5% of water users and the top 20% of water users per classification category and implement a conservation program that includes at least two BMPs from each of five BMP categories for the top 2.5% users, and one BMP from the same categories for those in the top 20% of each classification category.
    • Track 3: By June 30, 2029, identify existing CII connections that appear to be inefficient based on key business activity indicators (KBAI) that the supplier develops for each of the classification categories, and implement a conservation program that includes at least one BMP from each of the five BMP categories.
  • Disclosable Building – Rather than provide aggregate monthly water data to every disclosable building property owner (or owner’s agent) within a supplier’s service area as previously proposed, suppliers are only required to provide a report upon request from the building owner or agent.

Regulations Section: 974 (c)(1-3); Disclosable Buildings: 974(b)


Summary: Suppliers must report to both the State Water Board and DWR by January 1, 2025, and every subsequent January 1st  thereafter via a machine-readable form provided by the State Water Board. Reporting shall be on a fiscal year basis. For example, in 2025 suppliers shall report on the 2023/2024 fiscal year. There are concerns on how this fiscal year reporting timeline will align with the indoor standard that becomes effective January 1st as well as water loss reporting that is typically provided on a calendar year basis.

Regulation Section: 975(a) and (e)

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