Summary of 2015 Laws

Every year we post a summary of laws enacted during the prior California legislature session.  This list is usually long and, frankly, does not make for a compelling read, even though the enactments are important.  This year we are trying something different.  We will summarize the new laws in bite sized morsels. 

In coming days you will learn about statutes amending conflicts of interest, employee, the environment, and government contracting, including prevailing wages.  We start below with what is on everyone’s mind – at least until El Niño does its magic – water enactments.

Water Laws

The 2015 session was unique as it saw the adoption of groundbreaking water laws.  The focus of these new laws was groundwater and conservation:

Chapter 1 (AB 91):  Budget Act of 2014 includes funding for many water programs.

Chapter 2 (AB 92):  Establishes Office of Sustainable Water Solutions within State Water Resources Control Board [Water Code section 189].

Chapter 24 (SB 83):  An omnibus bill covering public resources.  Many provisions of this 95-page statute deal with water.

Chapter 49 (AB 149):  Changes the deadline for the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan to July 1, 2021.  [WC 10621]

Chapter 62 (AB 1):  Cities and counties cannot impose fines for brown lawns during the drought emergency.

Chapter 255 (SB 13):  Creates groundwater management agencies (GSAs).

Chapter 346 (SB1168):  Creates the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Chapter 347 (AB 1739):  Reconnects land use and water planning; mandates extraction reports for probationary basins; GSAs may impose fees on regulated activities; GSAs may impose fines, e.g. $500/a.f.

Chapter 348 (SB 1319):  State board authority to designate “probationary basins.”

Chapter 350 (AB 2453):  Act special to Paso Robles Basin.

Chapter 594 [AB 888]:  Prohibits microbeads in personal care products starting 2020.  [PRC 42360]

Chapter 662 (AB 401):  Several state boards must develop a plan to implement the Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program.

Chapter 663 (AB 434):  Permits point of use treatment for domestic water supply in limited circumstances.  [HSC 116380]

Chapter 666 (AB 617):  Technical changes to Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). [Water Code 10540, 10721, 10726.5, 10727.4, 10727.8, 10732.2, 10733.4]

Chapter 667 (AB 939):  More technical changes to SGMA.  [Water Code 10722.4, 10730]

Chapter 671 (AB 1164):  Planning agencies must allow drought tolerant and artificial landscape.  [GC 5307.7]

Chapter 672 (AB 1390):  Streamlines groundwater adjudications.

Chapter 673 (AB 1531):  Water project funding.

Chapter 676 (SB 255): More technical changes to GMA; introduces “probationary basins” to regulation.

Chapter 679 (SB 555):  Starting October, 2017, purveyors must submit an “annual validated water loss audit.”

These laws signal a shift from court imposed physical solution as the principal mechanism for groundwater management to administrative management adopted by local agencies.  They also show the state is assuming a more aggressive role in water management.

Contact us if you would like more information on any of these laws.

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