As we warned you earlier it would, the California Water Resources Control Board voted Tuesday to impose mandatory water-usage restrictions that come with $500 fines for non-compliance. Cue every tattle-tale neighbor in the state picking up the phone.

As the HuffPo reports, the new drought rules will vary from city to city, with some latitude given to cities that might only want to fine repeat offenders, for instance. Also, thankfully for poop-plagued San Francisco, there's been an exemption made for public health and safety, meaning that the Department of Public Works need not worry about incurring fines for power-washing St. George Alley and certain stretches of the Tenderloin when they become filled with shit, as they do nearly daily.

The restrictions come after the board noted that statewide water usage actually went up by 1% in May over the same month last year, and after most California cities have proved apathetic in the face of this three-year drought.

The rules, which take effect in August and stay in effect until April 2015, are as follows:

  • No watering lawns to the point of causing runoff onto sidewalks
  • 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

The Board estimates that these restrictions could save enough water statewide to supply more than 3.5 million people for a year. Nonetheless, 75 percent of the state's water usage goes to agriculture, and a separate study released yesterday from UC Davis found that statewide agriculture revenue losses due to the need for groundwater pumping and taking land out of production is estimated at $1.5 billion. The hardest hit area by far is the Tulare Basin in the Central Valley which is likely to see $810 million in lost crop revenue and could face groundwater depletion in 2015.

But, just for good measure, keep letting the yellows mellow and consider taking faster showers. We're all in this together, California!

[UC Davis]

Previously: Some Mandatory Water Restrictions Could Be On Their Way Next Week