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Water Conservation and Efficiency Priority Among State Legislatures

Legislatures across the country have adjourned their 2019 sessions leaving only 12 states in active sessions at this time, over half of which are full-time legislatures. Water conservation, efficiency and resource planning legislation was certainly a top priority in many states. At least 300 bills were introduced in 41 states on these priorities as lawmakers seek innovative solutions to meet the needs and long-term water demands of their constituents. Several states have passed or are considering legislation of interest, including:

Arizona. Considered 27 different pieces of legislation on water conservation and efficiency of which seven passed into law. These seven bills emphasize drought planning and water conservation. One establishes the Mohave County West Basin Water Users Study Committee and the La Paz County West Basin Water Users Study Committee which will receive and analyze all groundwater withdrawal data developed by the department of water resources and make recommendations on programs and policies for these areas to the director of water resources.

California. Ten pieces of legislation have been introduced in California thus far on water planning, drought mitigation and water recycling. The California legislature is still in session, so these bills are pending action currently.

Hawaii. Introduced 22 bills this session year, with two having passed and the other 20 pending legislator’s return in 2020. One of those passed is Senate Bill 1440 which authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to fund the planning, designing, construction, equipping, land leases, and other assets for two or more plants to desalinate water using one hundred per cent renewable solar energy and supply it to customers on Hawaii Island and potentially on other islands as well.

Nevada. Governor Steve Sisolak signed AB 163 into law on June 3, 2019 requiring new construction, expansions and renovations in residential, commercial or industrial structures, to use toilets, shower apparatuses, faucets and urinals that have been certified under the WaterSense program. The new law also adds in requirements for water loss audits, validation of audit results, and an analysis of progress towards water loss reduction goals. 

New Jersey. At least 29 pieces of legislation have come before the legislature thus far. New Jersey, a full-time legislature, still has several months to consider all these bills. Potential legislation includes requiring water purveyors to develop and implement a drought interconnection system, updating the Statewide Water Supply Plan, requiring water purveyors to conduct and report to the state Department of Environmental Protection water loss audits.

New York. At least 10 bills pending before their session ends later this year. One sent to the Governor for his signature that amends the state’s Water Conservation Law by aligning water saving performance standards with the WaterSense Program guidelines developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Governor Cuomo is expected to sign this legislation.

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