Executive Order N-7-22 Increases Drought Response as Rainy Season Comes to an End
Building on last years’ Executive Orders intended to combat the current drought, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-7-22 (“Order”) into effect on March 28, 2022, furthering the State’s drought response. With every county in California declared to be in a state of drought emergency as of Governor Newsom’s October 19, 2021 Executive Order, this new order will primarily look to implement increased drought response actions heading into the summer months.
While this Order reiterates that the prior drought executive orders, signed April 21, 2021, May 10, 2021, June 8, 2021, and October 19, 2021, will all remain in full force and effect, it also expands upon those orders by adding the following provisions:
- By May 25, 2022, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) must consider adopting emergency regulations that require Urban Water Suppliers to:
- Submit preliminary water demand assessments by June 1, 2022, and to submit final assessments as required by Water Code Section 10632.1;
- Implement the shortage response actions for a shortage level of up to twenty percent (Level 2), if the supplier has submitted a water shortage contingency plan to the Department of Water Resources, by a date to be set by the State Water Board; and
- Implement response actions similar to those required by Level 2 of water shortage contingency plans as will be established by the State Water Board, if the supplier has not submitted a water shortage contingency plan to the Department of Water Resources, by a date to be set by the State Water Board.
- By May 25, 2022, the State Water Board must consider adopting emergency regulations defining "non-functional turf" (i.e. turf that is ornamental and not otherwise used for human recreation purposes such as school fields, sports fields, and parks) and banning irrigation of non-functional turf in the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors.
- The following regulatory and permitting provisions are to be suspended for the duration of the Order:
- Public Resources Code, Division 13 (Section 21000 et seq.), specifically for projects and activities for the purpose of water conservation and any permits necessary to carry out such projects or activities;
- Change petitions under Water Code section 1707, 1425 through 1432, or 1725 through 1732, specifically for voluntary approaches to improve fish habitat; and
- Any ordinance, regulation, prohibition, policy, or requirement adopted by a public agency that prohibits the hauling of water out of the water's basin of origin or a public agency's jurisdiction, but only for the hauling of water by truck or bottle to be used for human consumption, cooking, or sanitation in communities or residences threatened with the loss of affordable safe drinking water.
- Counties, cities, and other public agencies are all prohibited from:
- Approving a permit for a new or altered groundwater well in a basin subject to SGMA and classified as medium or high-priority without first obtaining written verification from a GSA managing the basin; or
- Issuing a permit for a new or altered groundwater well without first determining that extraction of groundwater from the proposed well is (1) not likely to interfere with the production and functioning of existing nearby wells, and (2) not likely to cause subsidence that would adversely impact or damage nearby infrastructure.
- Lastly, the State Water Board is directed to expand inspections to determine whether illegal diversions or wasteful or unreasonable use of water are occurring and bring enforcement actions against illegal diverters and those engaging in the wasteful and unreasonable use of water.
The text of the Order can be found here.