California is experiencing the worst drought in over a century. While recent rains bring good news for our water supply, the California Legislature has enacted a number of laws aimed at water conservation that still stand. Existing law requires the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board to take appropriate actions to prevent unreasonable water use. To further the goal of preventing unreasonable water use, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law new legislation prohibiting excessive water use by residential customers during a drought (SB 814).
Specifically, SB 814, which adds Chapter 3.3 to Division 1 of the California Water Code, requires “urban water suppliers” to “establish a method to identify and discourage excessive water use.” (Water Code § 366(b).) Accordingly, a water supplier may adopt one of the following methods: (1) a rate structure using block tiers, water budgets, penalties for prohibited uses, and rate surcharges, or (2) an ordinance, rule or tariff (collectively, “Ordinance”) that defines the procedure by which water suppliers are to recognize and deal with excessive water use. A violation of an Ordinance is punishable by a fine of at least $500 per one hundred (100) cubic feet of water, or seven hundred and forty-eight (748) gallons, above the established threshold.
In light of the foregoing, Associations should be mindful of the new prohibition against excessive water use, especially in condominium project where the units are not separately metered.
Matthew T. Plaxton, Esq. is an attorney at Tinnelly Law Group, PC, a law firm which has been devoted exclusively to providing legal representation to California community associations for more than 25 years. He serves as the CLAC Liaison to the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of CAI, and is Chair of its Legislative Support Committee.