SAN FRANCISCO–The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has ordered investor-owned water companies to comply with Governor Jerry Brown’s call for a 20 percent water use reduction statewide, as well as any future conservation directives from the Governor, as the state works together to support drought mitigation and relief efforts.
On January 17, the Governor took swift action to declare a State of Emergency to address growing water, agricultural, and economic concerns around the state due to extreme drought conditions. Governor Brown established a Drought Task Force that is traveling throughout the state to meet with local officials in the hardest hit areas. State officials are working closely with federal agencies to provide assistance to affected communities and to forecast needs. Further, Governor Brown, along with the leaders of the State Senate and Assembly, announced comprehensive legislation to immediately help communities address drought impacts.
Under yesterday’s decision by the CPUC, large investor-owned water companies will request voluntary conservation from customers in order to reduce consumption. Customers must be notified through a bill insert or direct mailing. If voluntary measures do not yield the necessary reduction in consumption, or in circumstances of prolonged or severe drought, companies may apply to the CPUC to activate mandatory rationing after appropriate public notice and comment.
The CPUC is responsible for ensuring that California’s investor-owned water utilities deliver clean, safe, and reliable water to their customers at reasonable rates. There are 116 investor-owned water utilities and 14 investor-owned wastewater utilities under the CPUC’s jurisdiction providing water service to about 16 percent of California’s residents. Approximately, 95 percent of that total is served by 10 large water utilities each serving more than 10,000 connections.