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Top Story: CPUC Orders Water Utilities to Provide Notification to Customers of Water Use Restrictions and Potential Fines

Docket #: Res W-5000
Media Contact: Terrie Prosper, 415.703.1366, news@cpuc.ca.gov

SAN FRANCISCO, August 14, 2014 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today ordered the water companies under its jurisdiction to provide direct notice to their customers of mandatory water use restrictions and potential fines in response to the State Water Resources Control Board’s Emergency Regulation for Statewide Water Conservation.

On Feb. 27, 2014, the CPUC in response to the Governor’s drought proclamation of January 17, 2014, adopted drought procedures for water conservation, rationing, and service connection moratoria for regulated water utilities. On April 25, 2014, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order to strengthen the state’s ability to manage water in drought conditions.  In response, on July 15, 2014, the Water Board adopted Emergency Regulation that prohibits the use of drinking water for outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff; the use of a hose without a shut-off nozzle to dispense drinking water to wash a motor vehicle; the application of drinking water to driveways and sidewalks; and the use of drinking water in a fountain or other decorative water feature, except where the water is part of a recirculating system. The Emergency Regulation also limits outdoor irrigation of ornamental landscape or turf with drinking water to no more than two days per week.  Violation of these prohibited actions is punishable by a fine of up to $500 for each day in which the violation occurs.  Additionally, all CPUC jurisdiction water utilities are ordered to comply with the Water Board’s requirements codified in Title 23, Article 12.5, Sections 865(b) through (e) in implementing either mandatory outdoor irrigation restrictions or, alternatively, mandatory water conservation measures. 

Utilities must include notice of the implementation of either the mandatory outdoor irrigation restrictions or mandatory water conservation measures as required in Sections 865(b) through (e) as part of the required customer notification the CPUC required in today’s order.  The order requires that within 10 days all water utilities under the CPUC’s jurisdiction must publish notice of the Emergency Regulation in their local newspaper and on their respective websites.  Within 20 days, all water utilities must provide direct notice to their customers by either posted mail or email of the Emergency Regulation.  The notice must list the Water Board’s mandatory restrictions and the potential fines arising from violations of the prohibited water uses.  Following on regular intervals for the duration that the mandatory restrictions are in effect, utilities must use either bill inserts or bill messages to remind customers of the continuing mandatory restrictions. Additionally, the larger water utilities must track and record their progress in assisting local enforcement agencies responsible for enforcing compliance with the mandatory water use restrictions.  These water utilities will also provide a monitoring report to the Water Board by the 15th of each month beginning in October 2014.  The monitoring reports are intended to show progress towards the objective of a 20 percent reduction in water usage.

“This Resolution orders the CPUC-regulated water utilities to implement water conservation measures consistent with the Water Board’s mandate, and the CPUC will closely monitor the Water utilities’ progress in encouraging water conservation and consider further action if warranted,” said CPUC Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval.  “As part of their conservation efforts, CPUC-regulated water utilities can take steps to monitor and promptly inform customers about leaks and to work with customers to stop leaks and water waste, consistent with best practices being implemented by other California water utilities. Californians should take all feasible steps to reduce water use, including curbing outdoor water use, during the drought crisis.”

The Resolution voted on is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M102/K068/102068187.pdf.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste – visit www.SaveOurWater.com to find out how everyone can do their part, and visit www.Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.

For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.

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