Legislative Resources

Learn about how your California legislators are tackling state-wide water challenges through recently enacted and pending legislation.

Recently Enacted Legislation

AB 349 (Gonzalez)– AB 349 limits HOA authority to prohibit low-water-use landscapes. The bill makes unenforceable any HOA provision that prohibits the “use of low water-using landscapes that require an amount of water that is not more than the amount of water required by low water-using plants,” or that contradicts local water-efficient landscaping ordinances or regulations. This bill classifies synthetic turf as a viable low-water use landscape.

AB 434 (Garcia)AB 434 requires the state board to adopt regulations governing the use of point-of-entry and point-of-use treatment by a public water system in lieu of centralized treatment where it can be demonstrated that centralized treatment is not immediately economically feasible, with specified limitations.

AB 606 (Levine)AB 606 requires the Department of General Services to reduce water consumption and increase water efficiency when replacing or adding to landscaping on public properties. Strategies to achieve this mandate include the use of drought-tolerant plants, irrigation system upgrades, and the use of recycled water.

AB 1531 (Alejo) – AB 1531, among other actions, expands the definition of “public agency” to include a municipality, as defined in the federal act. The bill extends the authorization to borrow money and incur indebtedness to cities, counties, and special districts that provide or intend to provide water treatment facilities or services and for purposes of the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund or the California Safe Drinking Water Act.

AB 1164 (Gatto) – AB 1164 protects homeowners from local government restrictions on water efficient landscape installations by prohibiting local governments from banning water efficient landscapes including artificial turf.

AB 2067 (Weber) – The bill requires an urban retail water supplier and an urban wholesale water supplier to provide narratives describing the supplier’s water demand management measures, as provided. The bill requires, for urban retail water suppliers, the narrative to address the nature and extent of each water demand management measure implemented over the past 5 years and describe the water demand management measures that the supplier plans to implement to achieve its water use targets. The bill requires each urban water supplier to submit its 2015 plan to the Department of Water Resources by July 1, 2016.

AB 2104 (Gonzalez) – Under AB 2104, Home Owner’s Associations (HOAs) may continue to provide rules for outdoor landscaping but are prohibited from penalizing homeowners who opt to replace their lawns with or integrate low-water using plants in their landscape. This law was effective as of January 1, 2015, and does not require a drought-emergency in order for low-water using plants to be allowed. AB 2104 also includes language from SB 992 which protects residents from HOA fines against those who limit or cease outdoor irrigation during local or state-wide emergency drought status times. HOAs using recycled water for outdoor irrigation are exempt from fine restrictions during emergency drought times.

AB 2561 (Bradford) – AB 2561 renders void HOA rules that prohibit homeowners from planting personal or commercial edible crops in their front or back yard.

SB 88 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)  –   SB 88 will grant the state authority to consolidate water systems to serve disadvantaged communities where a clean drinking water supply is not available or reliable. The bill will also allow public water suppliers to impose civil fines of up to $10,000 for water conservation violations, impose new measuring and reporting requirements for water diversions, and suspend environmental review for certain drought-related projects.

SB 555 (Wolk) – SB 555 targets water loss reduction from leaks and breaks in urban water suppliers’ distribution systems by requiring them to submit validated water audits annually to DWR. The bill requires the SWRCB to adopt performance standards for the volume of water losses between 1/1/19 and 7/1/2020.

SB 664 (Hertzberg) – SB 664 requires an urban water supplier to include within its plan, beginning January 1, 2020, a seismic risk assessment and mitigation plan to assess the vulnerability of each of the various facilities of a water system and mitigate those vulnerabilities. 

SB 985 (Pavley) – SB 985 requires cities, counties or special districts to develop stormwater resource plans that meet certain standards.

SB 992 (Nielsen) – SB 992, which is incorporated into AB 2104 and does not apply in HOA neighborhoods that use recycled water, prohibits HOAs from fining homeowners who reduce or discontinue lawn watering during a statewide drought state of emergency. SB 992 went into effect in September, 2014. 

SB 1420 (Wolk) – This bill requires an urban water management plan to quantify and report on distribution system water loss. The bill authorizes water use projections to display and account for the water savings estimated to result from adopted codes, standards, ordinances, or transportation and land use plans, when that information is available and applicable to an urban water supplier. The bill would require the plan, or amendments to the plan, to be submitted electronically to the department and include any standardized forms, tables, or displays specified by the department.

Pending Legislation

AB 585 (Melendez) – AB 585 would offer tax credit for landscaping water efficiency upgrades to qualified taxpayers. For taxable years beginning 1/1/15, this bill allows a tax credit of 25% the amount incurred for installing water efficiency upgrades to landscaping (as determined by local, water-efficient landscaping ordinances, regulations, or programs), for up to $2,500/year. This measure is tied to the emergency drought declaration - when it expires, so do the tax credits. Single Family or Multi Family residences are eligible.

AB 603 (Salas) – AB 603 would offer tax credit for turf removal to qualified taxpayers. For taxable years beginning 1/1/15, this bill would allow a $2 tax credit per square foot of conventional lawn removed for taxpayers participating in a lawn replacement programs. Turf replacement requirements are defined by respective water agency turf rebate programs. Single Family residences are eligible. Multi Family and CII do not appear to be eligible. Pending bill amendments include changing the credit to 25% of the lawn conversion with and making the credit available only to lawn conversions that happen after 1/1/16.

AB 723 (Rendon) AB 723, as amended, would hold landlords of commercial and residential properties accountable for replacing inefficient plumbing fixtures, in an attempt to implement SB 407 that was passed in 2009. 

AB 786 (Levine) – AB 786 would allow the imposition of a fine against non-residential property owners that receive recycled water from a retail supplier and fail to use that recycled water for landscape irrigation.

SB 7 (Wolk) – SB 7 would authorize the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to develop a building standard requiring the installation of water submeters in multiunit residential buildings for adoption by the Building Standards Commission (BSC).

SB 47 (Hill) – SB 47 would require a multi-stakeholder study of the potential adverse health impacts of synthetic turf including an analysis of cumulative exposure and the chemical ingredients in synthetic turf. The bill would prohibit public and private schools as well as local government from installing, or contracting for the installation of, synthetic turf until January 1, 2018 (some exemptions are detailed).

SB 551 (Wolk) – SB551 would formally establish as state policy consideration of the water-energy nexus in which water use and water treatment shall be as energy efficient as is feasible and energy use and generation shall be as water efficient as is feasible.

SB 553 (Wolk) – SB 553 would require the Department of General Services to identify each public property in the department’s state property inventory where it is feasible for water consumption to be reduced and water efficiencies to be achieved through implementation of the relevant recommendations made in the model water efficient landscape ordinance and subsequently implement the recommended actions where feasible.

SB 789 (Wieckowski) – SB 789 would authorize local water agencies to voluntarily impose a tax at a rate not to exceed 300% of the purchase price of the water to fund local and statewide conservation efforts. Revenue generated from the tax would be divided equally between the local water agency and the State Water Resources Control Board. 

Legislative News

Amid complaints about secrecy, California water bill bogs down again

Monday, December 07, 2015
A California water bill that skeptics say has been cloaked in excessive secrecy will probably miss its Capitol Hill train this year. Read the full story here.