California is now imposing fines on water usage, following tighter restrictions for water use during a major drought. After officials put in place statewide restrictions on the use of water in the summer of 2014, the State Water Resources Control Board is indecisive on whether or not residents of California are actually following the restrictions. California water regulators gave community officials the ability to impose a $500 dollar fine for excessive use of water, but the board has released information stating that this fine is rarely imposed. The board plans to change that by getting stricter on water usage in California.
On Tuesday the State Water Resources Control Board will vote on whether or not to impose stricter regulations on water usage in California. They plan to track how the cities are complying with the regulations and ensure that fines are imposed for residents who do not follow the regulations. As statewide data is not collected on water usage, the board has been carefully monitoring communities and will continue to monitor to collect data.
So far, the information they have gathered shows that fines in most areas have not been imposed, even if warning letters were sent out. The communities of Dublin and San Ramon imposed around $40,000 but other major communities like Los Angeles and Coachella have not issued many fines. The director of the water program, Heather Cooley, told reporters that the level of enforcement needs to be higher.
In California, things like watering down driveways, running water fountains, and excessive watering of lawns is not legal. The board is also pushing to make running sprinklers after a rain storm, running sprinklers without a timer, and running sprinklers on unspecified days of the week illegal in California. According to statistics water used in landscaping accounts for about 70 percent of urban water consumption in California. This is why officials feel water usage for landscaping needs to be better controlled.
California is looking at going into a fourth year of drought. The regulations originally put into place required that residents of California cut their water consumption by 20 percent each month. However residents only cut water usage by 8.8 percent, a major concern considering what many scientists are saying about California.
According to sources, a water scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that California only has one year of water left on reserve. He also stated that because of the drought, groundwater is depleted much faster, meaning that there is not much water coming in to fill the reserves. According to the scientist, Jay Famiglietti, California has been running out of water since the year 2002.
Officials in California said that last years restrictions just left too many loopholes. They plan to vote on stricter regulations in order to conserve as much water as they possibly can. If implemented these restrictions also require community water agencies to measure usage and impose fines immediately for any resident who does not follow the California laws on water usage. For cities who already have restrictions in place, however, the board plans to let them regulate their own water, as long as it is well managed. Cities such as Sacramento, already enforce many of the rules that the board plans to make statewide.
If the vote does go through in favor of tighter water restrictions, residents of California will have to start monitoring their water usage, or face a $500 fine. As scientists work to determine just how quickly California may be out of water, officials are hoping to circumvent such a disaster. In places like New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona dryscaping is a popular way to manage the lawn. As many residents of California still have luscious lawns, perhaps they should be looking to better ways to maintain their properties, that would not require the use of water. For now, residents will be able to keep their green lawns, but if the new regulations do not conserve as much water as the state needs to get by, residents may be looking at even tighter restrictions in the future.
By Crystal Boulware
Robert Couse-Baker – Creativecommons Flickr License