California is in a serious drought, one that's cost thousands of farming jobs and billions of dollars to fight, and will likely continue through 2015, even if El Niño brings some relief. In a move to curb unnecessary use, the state approved major regulations Tuesday that will let law enforcement and government water agencies hand out $500-a-day fines for offenses that waste water, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Water agencies can now be fined $10,000 a day
Residents can now be cited for using drinkable water to wash a sidewalk or driveway, for excessively watering lawns, and for washing a car without a shutoff nozzle. The state is also putting heat on water agencies themselves; the agencies can now be fined as much as $10,000 a day if they fail to carry out plans for reducing water consumption. Starting in October, the agencies will also be required to track the number of gallons used per person per day.
The drought isn't new for California, but the regulations come as the situation becomes increasingly dire. Governor Jerry Brown called on Californians to cut 20 percent of their water use during the drought, but that may have been optimistic: in the past three years, water use in the state has actually increased by 1 percent.