The State Board Releases a Draft Framework for the Making Conservation a California Way of Life Regulation

Published: March 16, 2023


Prepared by Lisa Cuellar (3/16/2023)

On March 15, 2023, the State Board issued their draft regulatory framework for the 2018 conservation legislation also referred to collectively as AB 1668 and SB 606. Read the full draft proposal here. The first public workshop will be held on Wednesday, March 22. Details on how to participate can be found here.

Input received on the proposed framework will be used to inform revisions prior to initiating the final rulemaking process. Interested parties can review the draft framework and provide written comments no later than 12:00 PM on March 30, 2023. Comments must be submitted via email to: [email protected]. Be sure to include the following subject line: “Comment Letter – Board Workshop on Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life.”

Differences from DWR’s September 2022 Recommendations

The following is a summary of framework provisions proposed by the State Board that differ from DWR’s recommendations. Of particular interest is the lowering of both the outdoor residential and CII standard to an ETF factor of 0.55 and 0.45 after Oct. 1, 2035 respectively, replacing the CII-DIM conversion threshold of 1 acre with a volumetric water usage of 500 thousand gallons or more annually (process water excluded), and changing the CII classification categories from the 19 NAICS codes recommended by DWR to the 18 categories used by the U.S. EPA’s ENERGYSTAR Portfolio Manger tool.

  1. Outdoor Residential Standard:
    1. ETF lowered from 0.63 to 0.55 (Landscape Efficiency Factor or LEF of 55%) beginning Oct. 1, 2035.
    2. No automatic 20% buffer for Irrigable-Not-Irrigated (INI) landscape area. Rather, up to 20% of INI can be factored into the residential outdoor water budget only “if the supplier demonstrates that those INI areas have come under irrigation”.
    3. Residential Special Landscape Areas (SLAs) will be granted an ETF of 1.0 for use in calculating the residential outdoor water budget. This includes residential SLAs irrigated with recycled water. Areas planted with non-functional turf are not considered SLAs.
  2. Outdoor CII-DIM Standard:
    1. ETF lowered from 0.63 to 0.45 (LEF of 45%) beginning Oct. 1, 2035.
    2. All CII-DIM landscapes must be measured by 2028.
    3. Starting in 2028, suppliers will calculate their CII outdoor water budgets for those accounts with DIMs.
    4. CII SLAs exclude areas planted with non-functional turf.  In addition to Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) SLAs, CII-DIM SLAs will also include:
      1. Bioengineered sloped
      2. Ponds for recreation or for sustaining wildlife
      3. Public swimming pools
      4. Existing plant collections
      5. Botanical gardens and arboretums
      6. Cemeteries built before 2015
  3. Variances:
    1. Two additional provisions cited for: 1) Urban tree health, and 2) Pools, spas and other water features starting in 2030.
    2. Different code requirements cited for water use by horses and other livestock.
    3. Additional code requirements for water used in response to a state or local emergency, where “drought” is excluded from the eligible emergency events.
    4. An ETF cap of 1.0 (LEF of 100%) for residential agricultural landscapes, and specific references for “crop coefficients” and “irrigation efficiencies”.
  4. CII Performance Measures:
    1. Dedicated irrigation meters (DIMs) or in-lieu technologies should be installed/employed for CII customers without a DIM and when the supplier estimates usage of 500 thousand gallons of water or more annually.
    2. CII Classification would utilize 18 categories from the U.S. EPA’s ENERGYSTAR Portfolio Manger tool.
    3. CII Best Management Practices (BMPs):
      1. Suppliers must provide water usage for “ disclosable buildings” (per the CEC’s “Benchmarking” regulation) in a format compatible with ENERGYSTAR Portfolio Manager tool.
      2. Design and implement a conservation program with at least one BMP for the top 20% of water users (excluding process water) per classification category.
      3. Design and implement a conservation program with at least two BMPs for the top 2.5% of all CII water users (excluding process water).
  5. Other:
    1. Follow a process to annually request additional supplier calculated Irrigable-Irrigated landscapes beyond DWR landscape area measurement, SLAs and variances, including information “quantifying and substantiating each request” and a “description of efforts to prioritize water for existing trees.”
    2. Bonus incentive for potable reuse shall be calculated using annual data and would incorporate potable reuse water loss and surface augmentation or groundwater recharge.
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