Story at a glance
- California’s State Water Resources Control Board is implementing $500 fines for people who water their lawns within 48 hours after a rainstorm.
- Other water usage like letting sprinklers run onto sidewalks will also be fined.
- The new rules were prompted after the state fell short of voluntary water conservation efforts set forth by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
As California continues to endure drought conditions throughout the state, officials are now implementing fines for those who use too much water in an attempt to manage a dwindling water supply.
New rules adopted Tuesday by California’s State Water Resources Control Board will ban the watering of lawns for 48 hours after a rainstorm or letting sprinklers run onto sidewalks, according to The Associated Press (AP). The rules are set to take effect at the end of this month and will fine violators $500.
Along with limitations on when people can water lawns, the new rules will also not allow washing cars with hoses that lack a shut-off nozzle, using potable water to wash driveways, sidewalks, buildings and patios and for street cleaning or to fill decorative fountains or lakes.
However, water can still be used to water trees in street medians.
Eric Oppenheimer, chief deputy director for the state water board, told the AP, “conserving water and reducing water waste are critical and necessary habits for everyone to adopt as we adjust to these uncertainties and we build resilience to climate change, so adopting emergency regulations now just makes sense. We need to be prepared for continued drought.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) called for a voluntary 15 percent reduction in water used compared to last year, but between July and November the state’s water usage went down only 6 percent.
This week’s water usage fine also comes after parts of California received desperately needed rainfall and snow last month. Yet, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has said the state’s water future, “remains uncertain due to precipitation variability and a changing climate.”
It's the second time in a decade that California is implementing mandatory restrictions that dictate residents’ outdoor water usage as drought conditions persist and voluntary conservation efforts fall short. California is also the first state to implement statewide restrictions on residential water usage, despite much of the western U.S. experiencing similar drought conditions.
The new mandate also comes shortly after the state announced it would not be allocating requests for water it received from districts across the state, limiting requests only to those pertaining to health and safety measures, like for drinking and bathing.
Despite California’s water supply hitting crisis mode, the U.S. Drought Monitor began lowering the percentage of the state considered to be in severe to moderate drought through the month of December.
California’s DWR says that despite the state getting a few early storms offering a glimmer of hope, more storms that pack a similar punch are needed through the winter season to be in a spot where drought conditions are no longer of concern.
READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA