Decentralized Water Policy Council

The Decentralized Water Policy Council (DWPC), a policy initiative by OAEC and California County Regulators, supports the commitment and urgency for a change in water regulation rules acknowledged by Californians across disciplines and roles. OAEC is partnering with the California Onsite Water Association (COWA) to convene the DWPC.

Localizing California Water

The DWPC, a collaboration of multiple stakeholders from around the state, will increase California’s ability to reuse and conserve water in commercial and residential settings. The primary purpose of the DWPC is the creation of effective integrated water management in California through the implementation of decentralized water projects.


  1. Policy change, as recommended in a Decentralized Water Action Plan (D-WAP) being created by the DWPC;
  2. The creation of policy templates for regulatory agencies at the county and municipal levels;
  3. The provision of education to regulators and the public required for the rapid adoption of onsite reuse projects.

Roofwater Harvesting in California

Water, Energy and Climate

decentralized waterNearly twenty percent of California’s electricity and more than thirty percent of non-power plant natural gas is used for water-related purposes: for collection, production, transport, treatment and delivery of water to end users, during the consumption and use of water, and for collection, treatment, and disposal of wastewater [1].

Updating federal, state, regional and municipal policies to adopt modern onsite water reuse technologies has the potential to save up to 14 million-acre feet per year – that’s equal to 35% of current annual water use in California, and the equivalent of the water used by all of California’s cities in a year. This reduction in demand for new water would also dramatically reduce the amount of energy used and thus significantly reduce the GHGs emitted by California’s water-energy nexus [2].

Legalizing right action that allows and encourages water reuse and a reduction in energy consumption is one of OAEC’s strategies for change.


[1] Francis Spivy-Weber, Vice-Chair, State Water Resources Control Board
[2] Drought-Stricken California Could Save Up to 14 Million Acre-Feet of Water; Enough to Supply All the State’s Cities Annually, Issue Brief June 2014, NRDC and Pacific Institute

Action Plan

Council members are creating a Decentralized Water Action Plan (D-WAP) with recommendations for policy change at the state, county and municipal level. The D-WAP will offer recommendations that increase the rate of commercial and residential installations of integrated onsite water reuse projects through increasing incentives and reducing barriers to projects, while maintaining or improving water quality and public health.

Council members are organized into working groups around:

CA decentralized water council

Founding Members by Stakeholder Group

Steering Committee

Decentralized Water Policy Council


WATER Institute

WATER logo picture

The Occidental Arts & Ecology Center WATER Institute is one of main collaborators of the CDWPC. This OAEC program develops innovative science-based solutions for communities and the environment to address the legacy of hydrologically destructive land-use practices and policies on California’s watersheds, and the urgent need to address the impacts of climate change on the water cycle.


WATER Institute