Water Policy Guidelines

The California Water Guidelines were first adopted by the League of California Cities (The League) in 1988. The League and the County Supervisors Association of California (CSAC) developed the guidelines. Together, at the time, the two organizations represented 58 counties and 449 cities.

Much has changed in the realm of water policy in the more than 20 years that have passed since the Guidelines were first adopted. The number of counties has remained at 58, but California has gained an additional 31 cities and the population of the state has increased to more than 38 million people, creating increased demands on water supply. There is growing recognition that there are better ways of managing the flow of water within California’s many watersheds and through the Delta, to prevent harmful environmental impacts while still ensuring a reliable supply of water to its citizens. Climate change is seen as having an increasingly important impact on water supply and water quality. Water shortages place renewed emphasis on the importance of water reclamation, water recycling and other means of nurturing and protecting an essential resource.

In 2003, the League Board created the League Water Quality Task Force to identify and evaluate waste water and storm water regulatory issues of concern to cities and to recommend steps that the League should take to address those concerns. The Task Force drafted new League policy on water quality and the League’s Board of Directors adopted their report on July 18, 2003.

In 2008, the League formed a new Water Task Force to consider updates and revisions to the Water Guidelines the League drafted and adopted 20 years earlier. The League’s 16 Regional Divisions designated voting members; but membership on the Task Force was open to all interested city officials, and meetings were open to all interested parties.

The Task Force first met in Sacramento in April 2009 and organized three working groups (Water Use, Water Supply and Water Discharges). Members of the working groups held numerous meetings by conference call over the next two months. Subsequent meetings of the full Task Force were held in June and September 2009 before the revised Guidelines were submitted to the League policy committees in January 2010, for review and approval. The Guidelines were formally approved by the League Board of Directors in February 2010.

The California Water Guidelines are designed to be used by policy makers at all levels of government in developing future water policy for the state of California. The League encourages city, county and state officials, as well as representatives from other organizations, to review the guidelines as water policies and programs are developed.

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