BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                        SB 814|
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                                   THIRD READING 


          Bill No:  SB 814
          Author:   Hill (D) 
          Amended:  3/30/16  
          Vote:     21 

           SENATE NATURAL RES. & WATER COMMITTEE:  7-2, 3/29/16
           AYES:  Pavley, Allen, Hertzberg, Hueso, Jackson, Monning, Wolk
           NOES:  Stone, Vidak

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: Senate Rule 28.8

           SUBJECT:   Drought:  excessive water use:  urban retail water  
                     suppliers


          SOURCE:    Author

          DIGEST:  This bill declares that excessive water use by a  
          residential customer during a state of emergency based on  
          drought conditions is prohibited.  This bill further requires  
          each urban retail water supplier to establish a method to  
          identify and restrict excessive water use.

          ANALYSIS:
          
          Existing law:

          1)Declares, in the California Constitution, that:

             a)   The water resources of the state are to be put to  
               beneficial use to the fullest extent of which they are  
               capable.









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             b)   The waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of  
               use of water is to be prevented.


             c)   The conservation of such waters is to be exercised with  
               a view to the reasonable and beneficial use of the waters  
               in the interest of the people and for the public welfare.

          2)Authorizes any public entity that supplies water at retail or  
            wholesale for the benefit of persons within the service area  
            or area of jurisdiction of the public entity to, by ordinance  
            or resolution, adopt and enforce a water conservation program  
            to reduce the quantity of water used for the purpose of  
            conserving the water supplies of the public entity. 

          3)Provides that a violation of a requirement of a water  
            conservation program is a misdemeanor punishable by  
            imprisonment in a county jail for not more than 30 days, or by  
            a fine not exceeding $1,000, or both.

          4)Directs, via the Governor's April 1, 2015 executive order  
            regarding the ongoing drought, the State Water Resources  
            Control Board to impose restrictions to achieve a 25 percent  
            reduction in potable urban water usage through February 28,  
            2016.  The State Board has adopted regulations regarding  
            achieving that reduction, including the establishment of  
            penalties for failure to comply.

          This bill:

          1)Prohibits, during a period for which the Governor has issued a  
            proclamation of a state of emergency under the California  
            Emergency Services Act based on drought conditions, excessive  
            water use by either:

             a)   A residential customer in a single-family residence, or  
               by 

             b)   A customer in a multiunit housing complex in which each  
               unit is individually metered or submetered by the water  
               supplier is prohibited.

          2)Requires each urban retail water supplier to establish a  
            method to identify and restrict excessive water use, through  







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            one of two options:

             a)   Establishing a rate structure that includes block tiers,  
               water budgets, penalties for prohibited uses, or rate  
               surcharges over and above base rates for excessive water  
               use by a residential water customer. 

             b)   Establishing an excessive water use ordinance, rule, or  
               tariff condition, or amending an existing ordinance, rule,  
               or tariff condition, that includes a definition of  
               excessive water use by single-family residential customers  
               and customers in multiunit housing complexes in which each  
               unit is individually metered or submetered.

               i)     The ordinance could include a process to issue  
                 written warnings to a customer and perform a site audit  
                 of customer water usage prior to deeming the customer in  
                 violation. 
               ii)    Excessive water use would be measured in terms of  
                 either gallons or hundreds of cubic feet of water used  
                 during the urban retail water supplier's regular billing  
                 cycle. 
               iii)   In establishing the definition of excessive use, the  
                 water supplier could consider factors that include, but  
                 are not limited to, all of the following: 

                  (1)       Average daily use.
                  (2)       Full-time occupancy of households.
                  (3)       Amount of landscaped land on a property.
                  (4)       Rate of evapotranspiration.
                  (5)       Seasonal weather changes.

               iv)    A violation of an excessive use ordinance, rule, or  
                 tariff condition established pursuant to subparagraph  
                 would be an infraction punishable by a fine of up to five  
                 hundred dollars ($500) per hundred cubic feet of water,  
                 or per 748 gallons, used above the excessive water use  
                 threshold established by the urban retail water supplier  
                 in a billing cycle. 

                  (1)       Any fine imposed pursuant to this subparagraph  
                    would be added to the customer's water bill and is due  
                    and payable with that water bill. 
                  (2)       Each urban retail water supplier would be  







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                    required to have a process for nonpayment of the fine,  
                    which shall be consistent with the water supplier's  
                    existing process for nonpayment of a water bill. 

               v)     A violation of an excessive water use ordinance,  
                 rule, or tariff condition where a residence had a  
                 demonstrable water leak and a repair was underway to  
                 eliminate that leak would be a basis for granting an  
                 appeal and shall be considered for waiver of the charges  
                 consistent with the urban retail water supplier's  
                 excessive water use ordinance and existing policies for  
                 leak adjustments. 

               vi)    An urban retail water supplier would be required to  
                 establish a process for the appeal of a fine imposed  
                 pursuant to this bill whereby the customer could contest  
                 the imposition of the fine for excessive water use. The  
                 water supplier would further be required to provide the  
                 customer with an opportunity to provide evidence of a  
                 bona fide reason for the excessive water use, including  
                 evidence of a water leak, a medical reason, or any other  
                 reasonable justification for the water use, as determined  
                 by the urban retail water supplier.

          Comments
          
          Fining major water users seems to work.  For example, a recent  
          article in the LA Times documented how despite educational  
          campaigns, usage restrictions, and written notices for people  
          suspected of wasting water, Beverly Hills missed its mandatory  
          25 percent reduction in water use, triggering state fines.   
          However, once the city began penalizing wasteful water users,  
          city water usage fell by 26 percent.

          Why is this bill necessary?  Proponents argue that penalties  
          associated with violating water conservation programs are  
          ineffective as they are low priority crimes that are rarely  
          prosecuted.  The author's intent with the penalty language is to  
          be consistent with the penalty language in the State Board's  
          emergency regulations, which establish penalties violating Sec  
          864 (d): "?is an infraction punishable by a fine of up to five  
          hundred dollars ($500)?"

          Also, while nothing in current law appears to prohibit a water  







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          agency from establishing an excessive water use ordinance, the  
          author argues that by putting this bill's language in statute,  
          it will encourage otherwise reluctant water agency to pursue  
          water wasters more vigorously.


          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   Yes


          SUPPORT:   (Verified5/3/16)


          California League of Conservation Voters
          Clean Water Action
          Sierra Club California


          OPPOSITION:   (Verified5/3/16)


          Association of California Water Agencies 
          El Dorado Irrigation District
          Desert Water Agency
          Mesa Water District


          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:  According to the author, "No one should  
          be able to buy their way out of a drought. That's what SB 814 is  
          about. Under mandated water conservation targets during the  
          worst drought in our state's recorded history, most Californians  
          are making their best effort to conserve water. But, there are a  
          number of people throughout the state who appear to be using as  
          much water as they want, when they want, without any  
          repercussions. SB 814 makes sure all Californians share in the  
          efforts to conserve water by requiring that urban retail water  
          suppliers have a policy in place to curb excessive water use."


          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION:  Opponents raise a number of points.   
          El Dorado Irrigation District and Desert Water Agency "believe  
          the provisions of SB 814 represent an unwelcome and unnecessary  
          intrusion into the responsibility of local elected officials to  
          establish policy for the urban retail water suppliers they  







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          govern.  Mesa Water District states "The infraction is a  
          philosophical sticking point, Mesa Water's customers aren't  
          stealing water, they pay for all the water they use plus they  
          already pay penalty fees/fines if they are found to waste  
          water."  The Association of California Water Agencies seeks  
          amendments to provide local water agencies more flexibility in  
          implementing this bill.  They also seek more specifics about the  
          timeframe for compliance, such as how to know precisely when  
          they need to begin and end compliance.
          
          Prepared by:Dennis O'Connor / N.R. & W. / (916) 651-4116
          5/4/16 14:57:56


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