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Plumbing-efficiency standards to change Jan. 1

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California will follow the lead of San Diego and other cities in requiring water-conserving plumbing to be installed in homes and businesses undergoing renovation when a new law takes effect Jan. 1.

State Senate Bill 407 will require building permit applicants to replace all noncompliant plumbing fixtures in properties built before Jan. 1, 1994.

The law affects single-family and multifamily residences, duplexes and commercial property undergoing additions or alterations, and covers projects where floor area increases by more than 10 percent and total construction costs greater than $150,000.

State Sen. Alex Padilla, who represents the San Fernando Valley, introduced the bill. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

When the bill was passed by both houses and signed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the fall of 2009, Padilla said it would help Californians use water more efficiently, responsibly and strive for the state’s goal of 20 percent reduction in water use by 2020.

“California faces both short-term and long-term water supply challenges,” Padilla said. “Using water more efficiently must be a daily priority for everyone in our state.”

SB 407 adds that water-conserving plumbing fixtures replace other noncompliant plumbing fixtures as a condition for issuance of a certificate of final completion and occupancy or final permit approval by the local building department. By creating a new duty to inspect for local officials, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

There are exceptions to SB 407: registered historical sites; property for which a licensed plumber certifies that because of the age or configuration of the property installation of water-conserving plumbing fixtures is not technically feasible; and a building that has had its water service permanently disconnected.

The legislation is modeled closely after similar programs in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. SB 407 was sponsored by the Association of California Water Agencies, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

SB 407 also requires written disclosure to a purchaser or transferee as to whether the real property includes noncompliant plumbing and the requirements for replacing plumbing fixtures. The law allows its provisions to be postponed up to one year for buildings where a demolition permit has been issued.

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