PCL is actively engaged in the legislative arena to promote policies that pursue regional self-sufficiency and a ‘reduce, reuse, recycle, restore’ (4R) approach to water management in California. We recognize the interdependence of water supply and water quality in our advocacy work, as well as the need for strong environmental protection and the equitable distribution of safe, clean, affordable drinking water. We are working with the Legislature to prioritize State investments in sustainable solutions to water, rather than environmentally and economically damaging strategies like desalination, dams, water transfers, and large-scale storage projects.


Updates on Water Bills in the 2013 Legislative Session

The 2013 legislative session saw very little in the way of major water legislation; certainly less than the Human Right to Water (PDF) package that passed over the previous session, and likely significantly less than what we will see next year as the state wrestles with a revised water bond. While there were no groundbreaking accomplishments in 2013, several bills move water policy in a positive direction (albeit mildly), while other bills that were initiated this year will hopefully be revived in 2014.

This session started strong for coastal protection, but finished as a disappointment. PCL-sponsored AB 976 (PDF) (Atkins), which would have provided the Coastal Commission with much-needed authority to levy fines on Coastal Act violators, passed both houses, but failed a concurrence vote on amendments when a few Assemblymembers switched their votes or stayed on the sidelines under intense industry lobbying. Despite this setback, AB 976 made it much further than similar efforts in the past and garnered widespread public support. It is our intent to revive this legislation next session, and we are hopeful it will be joined by a related Coastal Commission bill, AB 203 (PDF) (Stone), that became inactive earlier in the session. Coastal climate change bill SB 461 (PDF) (Leno) unfortunately stalled in Assembly Appropriations and never made it out of the Legislature. On a positive note, sea level rise planning bill AB 691 (PDF) (Muratsuchi) passed and is on the Governor’s desk, while AB 754 (PDF) (Muratsuchi) – which creates an easy opportunity to support coastal conservation on state income tax forms – was signed by Brown on Coastal Cleanup Day.

Four out of eight bills aimed at promoting safe drinking water ultimately passed the legislature, several of which help focus existing funds on communities that need them most: AB 21 (PDF) (Alejo), AB 30 (PDF) (Perea), AB 115 (PDF) (Perea), and AB 119 (PDF) Committee on Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials) are all awaiting Governor Brown’s signature. Unfortunately, the top environmental justice priority bill – AB 145 (PDF) (Perea & Rendon) – was held in Senate Appropriations, but discussions on the reorganization of the state drinking water program continue.

AB 803 (PDF) (Gomez), SB 322 (PDF) (Hueso), and AB 1200 (PDF) (Levine), which all seek to promote greater use of recycled water, passed the legislature. SB 750 (PDF), Senator Wolk’s bill that would have required submetering on new multiunit dwellings in order to facilitate greater water conservation, is now a 2-year bill.

Discussions continue on a revised water bond to replace the $11.14B bond currently slated for the 2014 ballot, and this sure to be an important item on next year’s legislative agenda. Thankfully, neither the Senate nor the Assembly made a last-minute push for a bond this year, providing time for thoughtful debate over the interim. Two water bond bills are currently in play: SB 42 (PDF) (Wolk) and AB 1331 (PDF) (Rendon). Stay tuned for analysis and updates on both bills!

With water likely to be a much greater focus of the Legislature next year, PCL and PCL Foundation are planning to dedicate our 2014 Environmental Symposium exclusively to the protection of this precious natural resource.

Status of 2013 Water Legislation

Became Law or Likely to Become Law

  • AB 21 (Alejo): Safe Drinking Water Small Community Emergency Grant Fund.
  • AB 30 (Perea): Water quality.
  • AB 115 (Perea): Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
  • AB 119 (Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials): Water treatment devices.
  • AB 240 (Rendon): Mutual water companies.
  • AB 426 (Salas): Water: water transfers: water right decrees.
  • AB 691 (Muratsuchi): State lands: granted trust lands: sea level rise.
  • AB 754 (Muratsuchi): Income taxes: voluntary contributions: California Beach and Coastal Enhancement Account.
  • AB 803 (Gomez): Water Recycling Act of 2013.
  • AB 1200 (Levine): Recycled water: agricultural irrigation impoundments: pilot project.
  • SB 322 (Hueso): Water Recycling.
  • SB 620 (Wright): Water replenishment districts.

Note: As of September 30th, bills in italics are awaiting the Governor’s action and are expected to become law.

2-Year Bills

  • AB 69 (Perea): Groundwater: drinking water: Nitrate at Risk Fund.
  • AB 142 (Committee on Water, Parks & Wildlife): Water resources: infrastructure.
  • AB 145 (Perea & Rendon): State Water Resources Control Board: drinking water.
  • AB 203 (Stone): Coastal resources: coastal development permits: penalties.
  • AB 295 (Committee on Water, Parks & Wildlife): Water: water supply: infrastructure.
  • AB 407 (VM Perez): Environment: New River Watershed Water Quality, Public Health, and River Parkway Development Program.
  • AB 613 (Hueso): Water: water reclamation.
  • AB 793 (Gray): Renewable energy: publicly owned electric utility: hydroelectric generation facility.
  • AB 976 (Atkins): Coastal resources: California Coastal Act of 1976: enforcement: penalties.
  • AB 1043 (Chau): Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006: groundwater contamination.
  • AB 1331 (Rendon): Climate Change Response for Clean and Safe Drinking Water Act of 2014.
  • AB 1393 (Perea): Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
  • SB 40 (Pavley): Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2012.
  • SB 42 (Wolk): Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality, and Flood Protection Act of 2014.
  • SB 387 (Wright): Coastal resources: once-through cooling.
  • SB 449 (Galgiani): Local water supply programs or projects: funding.
  • SB 474 (Nielsen): Appropriation of water: Sewerage Commission Oroville.
  • SB 614 (Wolk): Irrigation districts: directors.
  • SB 658 (Correa): Orange County Water District Act: investigation, cleanup, and liability.
  • SB 671 (Monning): California Coastal Act of 1976: natural shorelinwe.
  • SB 750 (Wolk): Building standards: water meters: multiunit structures.
  • SB 772 (Emmerson): drinking water.
  • SB 783 (De Leon): The California Clean Water, Safe Urban Parks, and Environmental Health Investment Act of 2014.

Note: Bills in italics failed to pass out of a single committee in 2013.

Dead/No Longer Relating to Water

  • AB 1 (Alejo): Water quality: integrated plan: Salinas Valley.
  • AB 207 (Rendon): Marine resources and preservation.
  • AB 467 (Stone): Prescription drugs: collection and distribution program. (This bill was formerly the Freshwater Protection Act)
  • AB 521 (Stone): Recycling: marine plastic pollution.
  • AB 1251 (Gorell): Water quality: stormwater.
  • AB 1349 (Gatto): CalConserve Water Use Efficiency Revolving Fund.
  • SB 461 (Leno): State tide and submerged lands: mineral extraction leases: revenues.