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Emergency Regulation approved to Ensure
State Residents Increase Water Conservation
$500 a day fines possible for offenders
Photo by Terry Miller
In response to the ongoing severe drought, on Tuesday the State Water Resources Control Board approved an emergency regulation to ensure water agencies, their customers and state residents increase water conservation in urban settings or face possible fines or other enforcement.
The new conservation regulation is intended to reduce outdoor urban water use. The regulation, adopted by the State Water Board, mandates minimum actions to conserve water supplies both for this year and into 2015. Most Californians use more water outdoors than indoors. In some areas, 50 percent or more of daily water use is for lawns and outdoor landscaping.
Many communities and water suppliers have taken bold steps over the years and in this year to reduce water use; however, many have not and much more can and should be done statewide to extend diminishing water supplies.
With this regulation, all Californians will be expected to stop: washing down driveways and sidewalks; watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff; using a hose to wash a motor vehicle, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle, and using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated. The regulation makes an exception for health and safety circumstances.
Larger water suppliers will be required to activate their Water Shortage Contingency Plan to a level where outdoor irrigation restrictions are mandatory. In communities where no water shortage contingency plan exists, the regulation requires that water suppliers either limit outdoor irrigation to twice a week or implement other comparable conservation actions. Finally, large water suppliers must report water use on a monthly basis to track progress.
Local agencies could ask courts to fine water users up to $500 a day for failure to implement conservation requirements in addition to their existing authorities and processes. The State Water
Board could initiate enforcement actions against water agencies that don’t comply with the newregulations. Failure to comply with a State Water Board enforcement order by water agencies is subject to up to a $10,000 a day penalty.
“We are facing the worst drought impact that we or our grandparents have ever seen,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “And, more important, we have no idea when it will end.”