Update: DWR Sends Final Framework Recommendations to SWRCB

Published: October 11, 2022

Note: When we started the What the Framework Blog, our mission was to make this years-long process more accessible to all water conservation curious people across California. As this process moves from the Department of Water Resources to the State Water Resources Control Board, we will continue to keep the WTF blog updated. For current information on the indoor standard and water loss, head over to the blog

Lisa Cuellar, Director of Programs
California Water Efficiency Partnership

October 11, 2022

Below is a summary of DWR’s recent Long Term Framework recommendations to the State Water Board as submitted on Thursday, September 29, 2022. These recommendations address the following:

  • Residential Outdoor Standard,
  • CII-DIM standard,
  • CII Performance Measures,
  • Variances and
  • Bonus Incentives.

Note that these recommendations are subject to change per the final rulemaking process that allows for additional evaluation and public comment.  The State Water Board is expected to initiate final rulemaking in early 2023, as announced at CalWEP’s fall Plenary on September 8, 2022.

Residential Outdoor Standard:

    1. Established a reference evapotranspiration factor (ETF) of 0.80 and will decrease to an ETF of 0.63 by 2030 with no further recommendations to reduce.
    2. For new residential construction, the standard is established at 0.55 with potential to decrease based on future MWELO amendments.
    3. For Special Landscape Areas (SLA), like food gardens and recreational turf, the standard ETF is set at 0.80 and will decrease to an ETF of 0.63 with no further recommendation to reduce. Alternatively, suppliers can choose to include SLAs under the CII-DIM standard which is set to an ETF of 1.0.
    4. The Outdoor Residential Standard should be applied to 100% of irrigated landscape area and 20% of irrigable-not irrigated landscape area.

CII Outdoor Standard for DIMs:

    1. Existing landscapes: Established an ETF of 0.80 and will decrease to an ETF of 0.63 by 2030 with no further recommendations to reduce. Note modifications are allowed for SLAs.
    2. New landscapes (after Jan. 1, 2020): Established an ETF of 0.45 with potential to decrease based on future MWELO amendments. Note modifications are allowed for SLAs.
    3. Within 5 years of rule adoption, identify and measure landscape area.
    4. Areas that qualify as SLAs include: Bioengineered slopes, public swimming pools and supplemental water for ponds or lakes including those that sustain wildlife, recreation or other public benefit.
    5. Exempt landscapes: those exempt within Government Code 65598 and 2015 MWELO.

CII Performance Measures:

    1. Within 5 years of rule adoption, reclassify CII accounts based on 19 water-centric categories. Where DWR will provide technical assistance and guidance for mapping CII water used into the classification categories.
    2. Established a 1-acre threshold (per parcel) for converting CII MUMs to DIMs, DIM equivalent technologies, or in-lieu technologies. Installation must be completed within 5 years of rule adoption.
    3. The following technologies shall qualify as in-lieu technologies for CII landscapes with MUMs that exceed the 1-acre threshold:
      • Water budget-based rate structures
      • Water budget-based management without a rate structure
      • Hardware improvements with enhanced performance
      • Remote sensing combined with other data and hardware improvements
      • Landscape plant palette transformation programs
      • Others (as approved by the State Water Board)

If a supplier opts to install an in-lieu technology rather than a DIM (or equivalent), they must also implement BMPs for communication, irrigation system maintenance and irrigation scheduling. Date for compliance is within 5 years following the first year of landscape measurement.

   d. Develop a CII BMP implementation program specific to a supplier’s service area and target to CII accounts that exceed the following thresholds:

      • Top 20% of CII water-use sector
      • Top 2.5% of individual CII accounts (excluding process water use)

BMP implementation must address each of the following categories: Outreach, technical assistance, and education; incentives; landscape; collaboration and coordination; and operational. Suppliers must also document increased water use efficiency after implementation. BMPs must be implemented within 3 years of rule adoption. Note that alternative pathways could be considered for suppliers who have long-term CII programs where additional savings may not be achievable.


Recommends the 8 established variances identified in the 2018 legislation and calls to refine two of the established eight variances as follows:

      1. Limit “Significant use of water for soil compaction and dust control” to “Significant use of water for dust control for horse corrals and animal exercising arenas”.
      2. Expand “Significant use of water to irrigate vegetation for fire protection” to “Significant use of water during major emergencies”.

Recommend an additional variance for “significant use of water for home use medical devices” but defer until a time when this categorical water use has a material effect on a supplier’s Urban Water Use Objective (UWUO).

Bonus Incentives:

Recommended methodology is largely based on Option 2a, also known as the “Last-in-First-Out Inclusive Water Loss Criteria Methodology” (as described in the working group materials) with some modifications.* A template for calculating an eligible bonus incentive has been developed and will be modified by DWR following rule adoption. Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) methodology should be deferred until the State Water Board adopts criteria and regulations for permitting, as required by AB 774 (Quirk) of 2017. Until such time, DPR should not be allowed.

*CalWEP is requesting clarity on this and will update this blog post with more details soon. 

Guidelines and Methodologies for Calculating UWUO:

Comprehensive guidelines and methodologies for calculating the UWUO will be contained in DWR’s forthcoming full recommendation report, with no public release date currently cited. In addition, methodologies for the following will also be provided:

    • Calculation of potable reuse water bonus incentive
    • Determination of prior year actual water use
    • Data accuracy requirements and process for using alternative data
    • Comparison of the actual water use to the UWUO

SB X7-7 Compliance:

Supplier’s water usage must remain below SB X7-7 targets including during the transition to an UWUO. For those suppliers whose total UWUO and excluded demands, such as CII indoor water use and CII outdoor use not connected to a DIM, exceeds the SB X7-7 targets, DWR recommends that the State Board adjust components of their UWUOs to prevent backsliding from their 2020 targets.



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