To deal with this year's record drought in California, which may be a 100-year or a 500-year drought depending on who you talk to, the State Water Resources Control Board is deciding next week whether to impose mandatory, statewide restrictions on water use that would come with $500 fines for non-compliance. Restrictions for urban users aren't going to be that drastic, but they would be in effect for nine months.
Just last week, state regulators announced stiffer restrictions for farmers and others who have been pumping water from specific slow-moving streams and lakes. And the New York Times penned one of their schadenfreude pieces like the ones they do during fire season, this one about how Californians have only reduced water consumption by five percent so far this year, and about how neighbors around the state are tattling on each other for running their sprinklers too much.
Next week, the Water Resources Control Board will meet again to decide whether to impose restrictions on all California residents and impose those $500 fines, which would have to be enforced by police or other public employees. Those restrictions would include:
- No watering lawns to the point of causing runoff
- No using water to wash hard surfaces such as sidewalks and driveways,
- No washing cars or use of an outdoor hose unless the hose "is fitted with a shut-off nozzle or device attached to it that causes it to cease dispensing water immediately when not in use"
- No use of potable water in a fountain or other decorative water feature, except where the water is part of a recirculating system
You can read the full proposed restrictions here. But if you ask me, given Californians' poor performance on the conservation front so far, it seems like a broader campaign with more talk about 2-minute showers is in order.
As discussed earlier, San Franciscans are doing a slightly better job at this than the rest of the state, but it's still not good enough. We've so far managed to cut back water consumption 8 percent over last year, and the Public Utilities Commission has set a 10-percent cutback goal for us and the Hetch Hetchy. Statewide, Governor Brown has been asking for 20-percent cutbacks overall.