Calif. Gov. vetoes rainwater bill

Oct. 14, 2011
California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. has vetoed AB 275, the Rainwater Capture Act of 2011.


SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. has vetoed AB 275, the Rainwater Capture Act of 2011. In returning the bill to the General Assembly unsigned, Brown noted that it circumvented the usual process through the state’s Building Standards Commission.

"This measure seeks to adopt an interim standard for rainwater capture outside the established Building Standards Commission process," the Governor wrote in his veto message to the California State Assembly. "Without some urgency or a more compelling reason, I think it is better to stick with the process and follow existing California law."

The bill would have allowed any residential or commercial building owner to install and use a rainwater recovery and reuse system for indoor or outdoor use.

Brown’s veto is a setback of sorts for the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials. The sponsor of AB 275, California Assemblyman Jose Solorio, had used language from IAPMO’s Green Plumbing & Mechanical Code Supplement in crafting the bill. That had created a heated disagreement over which green plumbing codes should have been referenced in the bill. The GPMS is an overlay to IAPMO’s Uniform Plumbing Code and Uniform Mechanical Code but it is not, technically, itself a code document.

The International Code Council, publisher of the International Plumbing Code and International Mechanical Code, and its partner, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers, tried unsuccessfully to get their joint International Green Construction Code written into the legislation.

The legislation had sailed through the California legislature with only one dissenting vote, and then languished on Gov. Brown’s desk for more than a month.

ICC was pleased that Brown had reaffirmed the state’s Building Standards Commission process. In addition to objecting to the use of the Green Supplement because it is not a code, ICC pointed out that such code changes had to go through the Building Standards Commission and the law would likely not survive a court challenge.

“The International Code Council commended California Governor Edmund Brown Jr. for vetoing Assembly Bill 275 that sought to adopt an interim supplement for rainwater capture,” ICC said on its website. “The Code Council advocated defeat of the proposed legislation because it violated California's established code review and adoption process.”

"The ICC strongly endorses the practice of rainwater collection to supplement traditional water supplies," ICC Chief Executive Officer Richard P. Weiland said. "ICC is eager and ready to work with the state and many dedicated stakeholders to develop appropriate measures for rainwater capture that are within California's accepted process to create and adopt codes. This was a very difficult bill for us to oppose due to the sustainable features and must have been just as hard for the Governor. We commend Governor Brown for his veto."

IAPMO’s reaction is that the governor’s veto ultimately will not matter. State law requires that the California Plumbing Code be based on the Uniform Plumbing Code. Since the rainwater recovery and reuse sections of the GPMS will be inserted in the UPC, they will be adopted in the near future.

In a statement, IAPMO said that AB 275 would have temporarily enacted by statute the rainwater catchment system standards contained in the 2010 GPMS until the Building Standards Commission adopted permanent standards.

The rainwater catchment system standards contained in the 2010 Green Plumbing & Mechanical Code Supplement have been incorporated into the IAPMO 2012 Uniform Plumbing Code and thus will be considered next year for inclusion in the 2013 California Plumbing Code, the association said.

IAPMO noted that the governor’s veto does not prevent local jurisdictions from adopting or applying the 2010 GPMS rainwater catchment system standards at a local level until statewide standards are enacted. The rainwater section of the supplement includes backflow prevention requirements, algae control measures, child safety measures, vermin protection measures, and other health and safety protections.

“The Supplement also ensures that local rainwater catchment requirements will be consistent with current and future editions of the California Plumbing Code,” IAPMO said in its statement. “The Supplement contains the only model rainwater catchment standards specifically developed to work seamlessly with the current California Plumbing Code. In addition, adopting the 2010 Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement ensures that there will be consistency between any early adoption of rainwater catchment standards by local jurisdictions and the state adoption of rainwater standards in the next edition of the California Plumbing Code.”

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