Fines for California water-wasters to take immediate effect

SACRAMENTO - The severe California drought could cost state residents as much as $500 under some new regulations passed Tuesday.

The state's Water Resources Control Board approved emergency drought regulations to cut back on outdoor water use.

Earlier this year, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in California, asking people to cut back on their water use by 20 percent.

But apparently, people didn't get the message.

The board released findings from a survey that said water consumption actually rose by one percent this year, compared to previous years.

"We felt it was really important to take visible action to make clear to people we have no idea when this drought will end," Board Chair Felicia Marcus said .

After hours of discussion at Tuesday's public hearing, the board approved emergency drought regulations across the state.

The new rules require urban agencies to place prohibitions on wasteful watering activities, such as excessively watering lawns that cause runoff, hosing down sidewalks and driveways, and washing a car without a shut off nozzle. Some water districts and cities like Sacramento already have their own restrictions in place.

"Many people are doing far more than this, we're just saying this is the least people should do," said Marcus.

Businesses like Thai Canteen in Midtown say they have been doing their part to cut back on their water use.

But the threat of a hefty fine is cause to take things more seriously. Violators could be fined as much as $500 dollars a day.

"With this penalty, it's going to make more business cutting down on water use, because I don't think any business would want a $500 fine," said Judy Ratsavongsy, manager at Thai Canteen.

People could actually start getting fined as early as August after the Office of Administrative Law reviews and adopts the new regulations.


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