Lakeside native director of EMWD water supply addresses new state regulations


Elizabeth Lovsted, who was raised in Lakeside and is now the director of water supply and planning for the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County, was on a panel during the Association of California Water Agencies’ fall conference in San Diego.

Elizabeth Lovsted, who was raised in Lakeside and is now the director of water supply and planning for the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County, was on a panel during the Association of California Water Agencies’ fall conference in San Diego.

Lovsted was part of the panel for the “What Do the New Water Conservation and Efficiency Requirements Mean for Your Agency” session. The panelists also included Irvine Ranch Water District government relations manager Christine Compton and Northern California Water Association legislative affairs director Adam Robin.

On May 31 Governor Brown signed two bills which addressed urban water efficiency, urban drought planning requirements, agricultural water management, and county drought planning for small systems. Lovsted’s presentation focused on urban drought planning, Compton addressed urban water use efficiency, and Robin provided the information on agricultural and countywide water planning.

“There was a need for planning for longer periods of drought,” Lovsted said. “The legislation I think is really looking to define efficiency.”

State law requires each water agency to prepare and submit an urban water management plan every five years. New legislation requires that the plan include a five-year drought risk assessment – evaluations criteria will be used to conduct assessments if applicable locally – and for the plan to include energy data.

A water shortage contingency plan will be due by 2021. “You can take both supply and demand actions,” Lovsted said.

The required content of the water shortage contingency plan includes a definition of the methodology and evaluation criteria used to conduct the agency’s annual water budget forecast, six standard shortage levels along with response actions for each shortage level, a communication plan, the implementation authorities, and a financial plan for drought conditions.

“This is actually creating a stand-alone document,” Lovsted said.

The annual supply and demand assessment statute mandates that urban water suppliers evaluate the supplier’s water supply reliability for the current year and one dry year.

The guidelines for all three of those requirements are to be developed by the state Department of Water Resources (DWR). “There’s still a lot to be developed,” Lovsted said. “Each one of these has a different timeline.”

The details to be finalized include reporting, outdoor landscape targets, urban water management plans, water shortage contingency plans, small systems drought planning, drought risk assessments, indoor standards, water loss allowances, variances, and performance measures for commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) customers.

The state-led actions which will result in implementation include publishing a primer summarizing requirements and responsibilities, developing an urban advisory group and other technical groups beginning in 2019, creating a water loss stakeholder group, forums to discuss implementation, and coordination and collaboration regarding input from local agencies and other stakeholders.

“The water agencies are off to a great start,” Robin said.

“What we want to do is engage this effort,” Lovsted said. “We’ve already started to work together.”

Beginning in 2023 all urban retail water agencies must submit an annual water use report to the state water board in which the agencies calculate the previous year’s urban water use objective, report actual water use, and document the implementation of CII performance measures.

“It needs to meet the objective regardless of whether you have more than enough supply,” Compton said.

The legislation sets residential indoor standards of 55 gallons per person per day until 2025, 52.5 gallons per person per day from 2025 to 2030, and 50 gallons per person per day after 2030. Outdoor standards will be set by the state water board in coordination with DWR.

“This is a retail level water budget,” Compton said. “The enforcement is not on customers. It’s all on the retail level.”

Agricultural water management plans must include a drought plan describing the water supplier’s action related to drought preparedness and the supplier’s management of water supplies and allocations during drought conditions. The plans must include an annual water budget and water management objectives based on the budget. Annual reports summarizing annual farm-gate delivery data must be submitted electronically and must be organized by groundwater basin within the service area if applicable.

The countywide drought and water shortage contingency plan requirements stipulate that by Jan. 1, 2020, DWR will utilize available data to identify at-risk small water suppliers and rural communities and will propose recommendations to the legislature and the governor to develop and implement countywide drought and water shortage contingency plans, address the planning needs of small water suppliers and rural communities, and incorporate plans into county hazard mitigation plans or integrate the plans with existing complementary planning processes.

ACWA and other water agencies worked with state legislators and DWR on the development of the new requirements.

“It’s been a really cooperative effort developing the legislation,” Lovsted said. “Christine and Adam did some really good things when we were putting the legislation together.”