Water is a precious source in California, as readers are aware, and this is especially true in times of drought. Although most of the state is not currently in drought status, conservation remains an important focus for Governor Jerry Brown and state officials.

Under the Governor’s conservation framework, which will be imposed on a total of 409 urban water agencies throughout the state, water management agencies would have a customized water budget based on total water consumption in areas of service, as well as leakage allowances. The aim is not only to conserve water, but to ensure its efficient usage. The model works by allowing consumers greater control over the cost of their water.

The model would begin with an estimation of water demand on each parcel, which would largely be based on landscaping. Water allowances would fall into several categories, some with higher water demand than others. Indoor water use is presumed to be relatively consistent. The plan would also require local agencies to adopt consistent contingency plans for water shortages.

Unsurprisingly, the new framework is not universally supported. While environmental groups are pleased with the budget-based model of water management, opponents argue that it doesn’t allow for enough local water management. Some have suggested an alternative conservation approach which uses alternative ways of establishing conservation goals.

Others have suggested a greater emphasis on finding new supplies of water, whether from surface water or groundwater, water trading, or water reuse. This, of course, would reduce the need for conservation, but would entail involvement in the permitting and licensing process. In our next post, we’ll say more about this issue and the role an experienced attorney can play in this process.