Water Policy

Market-Based Water Policy

California Water Policy

AB1881

Model Ordinance Specifications Summary

  • "Shall not prohibit or require specific plant species, but it may include conditions for the use of plant species or encourage water conserving plants"
  • Maximum water budget based on climate, landscape size, irrigation efficiency, and plant needs
  • Encourage capture and retention of stormwater
  • Automatic irrigation based on climatic conditions, terrain, soil, and other environmental conditions [hydrozoning, evapotranspiration controllers]
  • Soil management plans that include grading, drainage, and mulching
  • Promote the use of recycled water
  • Educate water users on the efficient use of water
  • Encourage the use of economic incentives to promote the efficient use of water
  • Maintenance practices e.g. irrigation system repair and adjustments, water audits, and capping water per landscaped acre
  • Provisions to minimize landscape irrigation overspray and runoff

Non-Coercive Water Conservation

  • Cap-and-trade: markets for water shares
  • Conservation feebates
  • Tiered water rates
  • Pre-pay your annual water bill in lieu of an irrigation audit; pay double for extra water
  • Rebates for conservation: replacing "wasteful" landscaping and appliances, etc.
  • Free water audits
  • Education about hydrozoning, smart irrigation controllers, mulching, water recycling
  • Publicity for water savers, maybe even for water hogs too

Atherton Conservation Ordinance (~2 pages of rules)

  • Landscape projects must have their water efficiency approved
  • Hydrozoning and appropriate species choice is encouraged
  • Turf may constitute no more than 25% of developed landscape area
  • Water features must be recirculating
  • Pool and spa covers encouraged
  • Irrigation guidelines

Hillsborough Conservation Ordinance (~1 page of rules)

  • Water-intensive landscaping (e.g. turf, pools, water features, gardens) must be no more than 34% of softscaped area
  • 34% rule applies to new homes, and projects affecting > 10,000 sq. ft or moving 50 yd^3 of soil or costing >$5K-$12K

Santa Clara County Integrated Landscape Guidelines

  • 15 pages of comprehensive "standards and guidelines"
  • Design review is mandatory only in exurban foothills overlooking the valley's edge freeways; see map p. 31

Metropolitan Water District of S. Cal Model Water Conservation Ordinance

  • 12 pages of templated restrictions — permanent, and 3 levels of water emergency
  • no watering 9am - 5pm
  • no irrigation station may run more than 15 minutes
  • no runoff
  • no washing hardscape
  • must fix leaks/breaks within 7 days
  • re-circulation required for water features
  • wash vehicles only by bucket
  • water 3 days/week in summer, 1 day/week in winter
  • no filling water features, no re-filling pools/spas
  • hardship waiver process
  • escalating fines, flow restrictor, disconnection
  • fine per unit of water above allocation
  • mandatory percentage reduction

Libertarians on Water Boards

Richard Burke OR Tualatin Valley Water District
Tom Clark FL Lee Soil and Water Conservation District
Marc Delphine OR Tigard Water District
Jonathan Hall CA Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District
Kim Hawk FL Lee Soil and Water Conservation District
Brian Holtz CA Purissima Hills Water District
Jeff Hunt FL Duval Soil and Water Conservation Board
Larey McLaren WA Alderwood Water District
Robert Mendez CA Vista Irrigation District 2004-2008
Charles Radley OR Tigard Water District
Bo Shaffer CO Left Hand Water District
Bob Stadum CA Hi-Desert Water District
Jack Tanner FL Lee Soil and Water Conservation District

AB 1881 Excerpts

65593. [Legislative Findings]

(f) Section 2 of Article X of the California Constitution specifies that
the right to use water is limited to the amount reasonably required for the
beneficial use to be served and the right does not and shall not extend to
waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use.

65595. [Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance]

(a) (1) To the extent funds are appropriated, not later than
January 1, 2009, by regulation, the department shall update the model
water efficient landscape ordinance adopted pursuant to Chapter 1145 of
the Statutes of 1990 […]
(b) Not later than January 31, 2009, the department shall distribute the
updated model ordinance adopted pursuant to subdivision (a) to all local
agencies and other interested parties.
(c) On or before January 1, 2010, a local agency shall adopt one of the
following:
(1) A water efficient landscape ordinance that is, based on evidence in
the record, at least as effective in conserving water as the updated model
ordinance adopted by the department pursuant to subdivision (a).
(2) The updated model ordinance described in paragraph (1).
(d) If the local agency has not adopted, on or before January 1, 2010, a
water efficient landscape ordinance pursuant to subdivision (c), the
updated model ordinance adopted by the department pursuant to
subdivision (a) shall apply within the jurisdiction of the local agency as of
that date, shall be enforced by the local agency, and shall have the same
force and effect as if adopted by the local agency.

65596. [Model Ordinance Specifications]

The updated model ordinance adopted pursuant to Section
65595 shall do all the following in order to reduce water use:
(a) Include provisions for water conservation and the appropriate use
and groupings of plants that are well-adapted to particular sites and to
particular climatic, soil, or topographic conditions. The model ordinance
shall not prohibit or require specific plant species, but it may include
conditions for the use of plant species or encourage water conserving
plants. However, the model ordinance shall not include conditions that
have the effect of prohibiting or requiring specific plant species.
(b) Include a landscape water budget component that establishes the
maximum amount of water to be applied through the irrigation system,
based on climate, landscape size, irrigation efficiency, and plant needs.
(c) Promote the benefits of consistent local ordinances in neighboring
areas.
(d) Encourage the capture and retention of stormwater onsite to
improve water use efficiency or water quality.
(e) Include provisions for the use of automatic irrigation systems and
irrigation schedules based on climatic conditions, specific terrains and soil
types, and other environmental conditions. The model ordinance shall
include references to local, state, and federal laws and regulations
regarding standards for water-conserving irrigation equipment. The model
ordinance may include climate information for irrigation scheduling based
on the California Irrigation Management Information System.
(f) Include provisions for onsite soil assessment and soil management
plans that include grading and drainage to promote healthy plant growth
and to prevent excessive erosion and runoff, and the use of mulches in
shrub areas, garden beds, and landscaped areas where appropriate.
(g) Promote the use of recycled water consistent with Article 4
(commencing with Section 13520) of Chapter 7 of Division 7 of the Water
Code.
(h) Seek to educate water users on the efficient use of water and the
benefits of doing so.
(i) Address regional differences, including fire prevention needs.
(j) Exempt landscaping that is part of a registered historical site.
(k) Encourage the use of economic incentives to promote the efficient
use of water.
(l) Include provisions for landscape maintenance practices that foster
long-term landscape water conservation. Landscape maintenance practices
may include, but are not limited to, performing routine irrigation system
repair and adjustments, conducting water audits, and prescribing the
amount of water applied per landscaped acre.
(m) Include provisions to minimize landscape irrigation overspray and
runoff.

65597. [Compliance]

Not later than January 31, 2010, each local agency shall notify
the department as to whether the local agency is subject to the
department’s updated model ordinance adopted pursuant to Section 65595,
and if not, shall submit to the department a copy of the water efficient
landscape ordinance adopted by the local agency, and a copy of the local
agency’s findings and evidence in the record that its water efficient
landscape ordinance is at least as effective in conserving water as the
department’s updated model ordinance.

California Water Code Excerpts

31007. The rates and charges to be collected by the district shall
be so fixed as to yield an amount sufficient to do each of the
following:
(a) Pay the operating expenses of the district.
(b) Provide for repairs and depreciation of works owned or
operated by the district.
(c) Pay the interest on any bonded debt.
(d) So far as possible, provide a fund for the payment of the
principal of the bonded debt as it becomes due.
It is intended by this section to require the district to pay the
interest and principal of its bonded debt from the revenues of the
district, except that this requirement is not intended to apply to a
bonded debt for sewage disposal purposes.

31016. (a) In order to enforce the provisions of any ordinance of
the district, including an ordinance fixing charges for the
furnishing of commodities or services, the district may correct any
violation of an ordinance of the district. The district may also
petition the superior court for the issuance of a preliminary or
permanent injunction, or both, as may be appropriate, restraining any
person from the continued violation of any ordinance of the district
or for the issuance of an order stopping or disconnecting a service
if the charges for that service are unpaid at the time specified in
the ordinance.
(b) The district may enter upon the private property of any person
within the jurisdiction of the district in order to investigate
possible violations of an ordinance of the district. The
investigation shall be made with consent of the owner or tenant of
the property or, if consent is refused, with a warrant duly issued
pursuant to the procedures set forth in Title 13 (commencing with
Section 1822.50) of Part 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure, except
that, notwithstanding Section 1822.52 of the Code of Civil Procedure,
the warrant shall be issued only upon probable cause.
(c) The district shall notify the county or city building
inspector, county health inspector, or other affected county or city
employee or office, in writing, within a reasonable time if an actual
violation of a district, city, or county ordinance is discovered
during the investigation.

31021. A district may store water for the benefit of the district,
conserve water for future use, and appropriate, acquire, and conserve
water and water rights for any useful purpose.

31022. A district may operate water rights, works, property,
rights, and privileges useful or necessary to convey, supply, store,
or make use of water for any purpose authorized by this division.

31023. A district may sell water or the use thereof for any useful
purpose and whenever there is a surplus, dispose of the surplus to
municipalities, public agencies, or consumers located without the
district.

31024. A district may establish rules and regulations for the sale,
distribution, and use of water and may therein provide that water
shall not be furnished to persons against whom there are delinquent
water rates.

31025. The district shall fix and through the general manager
collect the water rates.

31026. A district shall have the power to restrict the use of
district water during any emergency caused by drought, or other
threatened or existing water shortage, and to prohibit the wastage of
district water or the use of district water during such periods, for
any purpose other than household uses or such other restricted uses
as may be determined to be necessary by the district and may prohibit
use of such water during such periods for specific uses which the
district may from time to time find to be nonessential.

31029. After the publication or posting of any ordinance as
provided in Section 31027, it is a misdemeanor for any person to use
or apply water received from the district contrary to or in violation
of the restriction or prohibition, until the ordinance has been
repealed or the emergency or threatened emergency has ceased, and,
upon conviction thereof, that person shall be punished by
imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 30 days or by fine
of not more than six hundred dollars ($600), or by both the fine and
imprisonment.

31033. A district may drain and reclaim lands within the district
either by surface or underground works or both; and may acquire, by
appropriation or other lawful means, and divert, store, conserve,
transport or dispose of water resulting from such operations; and may
acquire, by appropriation or other lawful means, and divert, store,
conserve, transport or dispose of flood and storm water within the
district, and flood and storm water of streams or watercourses
outside of the district which flow into the district, for any
beneficial purpose or use.

31035. A district may undertake a water conservation program to
reduce water use and may require as a condition of new service that
reasonable water-saving devices and water reclamation devices be
installed to reduce water use.

31047. A district may control, distribute, store, spread, sink,
treat, purify, recapture and salvage any water, including sewage and
storm waters, for the beneficial use or uses of the district or its
inhabitants or the owners of rights to water therein.

31060. A district may construct any works along, under, or across
any street, water course, railway, or conduit in a manner that will
afford security for life and property. The district shall restore
the property crossed as near as may be to its former state or so as
not to have impaired unnecessarily its usefulness.

31082. A district may commence, maintain, intervene in, defend, and
compromise actions and proceedings to prevent interference with or
diminution of the natural flow of any stream or natural subterranean
supply of waters which may:
(a) Be used or be useful for any purpose of the district.
(b) Be of common benefit to the land or its inhabitants.
(c) Endanger the inhabitants or land.

31102. The district may provide that such rates or other charges
may be collected with the water rates of the district and that all
rates shall be billed upon the same bill and collected as one item,
and that in the event of failure to pay the whole or any part
thereof, the district may discontinue any and all service for which
such bill is rendered, but this provision shall not be construed to
prohibit the collection of rates or charges by the district in any
other lawful manner.

31130. A district may use any water or land under its control for
recreational purposes and in connection therewith may construct,
maintain, and operate any works or facilities appropriate or
ancillary to such recreational use; provided, that recreational use
of water shall be subject to the approval of the public health
authority having jurisdiction.

31132. The exercise of the power of eminent domain to acquire any
land or interest therein for recreational purposes is limited to land
within the district or land contiguous to the district.

31149.1. A district may, by using any water or water supplies
furnished to the district or used by the district, construct,
maintain, and operate one or more plants for the generation of
hydroelectric power from the water, and the transmission lines for
the conveyance thereof.
"Plant for the generation of hydroelectric power" includes water
driven generators and appurtenant facilities for the generation of
electric power and structures for the protection of the generators on
appurtenant facilities.
The plant or plants so constructed shall be operated in a manner
which is compatible with the proper operation of the district's water
storage, transmission, and distribution system. Construction of the
plant or plants and transmission lines may be financed by the
issuance of general obligation bonds or revenue bonds or any other
method of financing district works authorized in this division.

31149.2. The hydroelectric power plant or plants and transmission
lines constructed pursuant to this article may be leased for
operation by, or the power generated may be sold to, a public utility
or public agency engaged in the distribution, use, or sale of
electricity. The power generated may be used by a district for its
own purposes, or for the production or transmission of water, but
shall not be offered for sale directly by a district to customers
other than such a public utility or public agency. The power to
acquire works and facilities shall not include, and nothing in this
article shall be interpreted to allow, the acquisition of property
already employed in the generation of hydroelectric energy for public
utility purposes, except by mutual agreement between the district
and the owner of that property.

31650. A district may cause taxes to be levied for the purpose of
paying any of its obligations and to accomplish the purposes of this
division.

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