Assistance for Water Systems

On July 15, 2014, the California State Water Resources Control Board adopted an emergency regulation to increase water conservation. The new conservation regulation targets outdoor urban water use. This regulation establishes the minimum level of activity that residents, businesses and water suppliers must meet as the drought deepens and will be in effect for 270 days unless extended or repealed.

With this regulation, all Californians are expected to stop: washing down driveways and sidewalks; watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff; using a hose to wash a motor vehicle, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle, and using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated.  The regulation makes an exception for health and safety circumstances.

Larger water suppliers are required to activate their Water Shortage Contingency Plan to a level where outdoor irrigation restrictions are mandatory. In communities where no water shortage contingency plan exists, the regulation requires that water suppliers either limit outdoor irrigation to twice a week or implement other comparable conservation actions. Finally, large urban water suppliers must report water use on a monthly basis to track progress beginning August 15, 2014.

Local agencies could ask courts to fine water users up to $500 a day for failure to implement the conservation requirements of the regulation, in addition to their existing authorities and processes. Compliance with prohibitions and water agency restrictions on customer water use will be locally enforced. The State Water Board could initiate enforcement actions against water agencies that don’t comply with the new regulations.  Failure to comply with a State Water Board enforcement order by water agencies is subject to up to a $10,000 a day penalty.


California Department of Public Health's (CDPH) Division of Drinking Water is identifying systems that may be vulnerable to acute drinking water shortages due to drought. The Division is continuing to monitor and evaluate drinking water systems to determine drinking water systems that may soon be at-risk.  Emergency drinking water grants are available.

Through the Division of Drinking Water, CDPH administers $15 million in funding from the Public Water System Drought Emergency Response (PWSDER) Program to provide funding for interim and/or permanent solutions for qualified water systems adversely affected by the drought. Eligible projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Interties
  • Well modification
  • New Wells
  • Hauled Water/Interim Water
  • Source Alternatives
  • Planning & Construction

The California Environmental Protection Agency's State Water Resources Control Board administers the Cleanup and Abatement Account (CAA) to provide public agencies with grants for the cleanup or abatement of a condition of pollution when there are no viable responsible parties available to undertake the work. Eligible entities that could apply for this funding include public agencies, as well as certain not-for-profit organizations and tribal governments that serve a disadvantaged community and that have the authority to clean up or abate the effects of a waste.

For more information on the Cleanup and Abatement Account grant opportunities, please contact the program's Assistant Deputy Director at 916-341-5694, or email