California is getting serious about punishing water wasters.
State regulators adopted measures this month "banning watering lawns, washing cars or sidewalks, and running fountains, with violators facing fines up to $500," USA Today reported. "Police will have the authority to ticket water-wasters.
More enforcement officials may be hired to help cities impose new regulations. The Santa Clara Valley Water District has proposed to "spend $500,000 to hire up to 10 new temporary employees to help enforce water use prohibitions across Silicon Valley," the San Jose Mercury News reported.
The crackdown comes as residents fail to cut back voluntarily.
"A new survey showed why officials state say the drastic measures are needed: Californians actually increased their water use amid the worst drought in decades," the San Jose Mercury News reported.
"The survey of 267 water providers by the water board found that water consumption in the Bay Area dropped 5 percent. But in coastal California, south of Santa Barbara, consumption rose 8 percent," the report said.
The new standards will be enforced at the municipal level.
"The emergency rules, expected to take effect Aug. 1, don’t order cities to slash water use by a certain amount. Rather they direct agencies to — at a minimum — ban wasteful practices such as allowing runoff from outdoor sprinklers, hosing down driveways and sidewalks and using drinking water in ornamental fountains that don’t recirculate," the Los Angeles Times reported.
Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the state water board, framed the fine as motivation.
"Our goal here is to light a fire under those who aren't yet taking the drought seriously," she said to the Associated Press.
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Image credit: "Sprinkler," Kumaravel © 2011, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
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