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7 ways you could soon be fined for wasting water

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The State Water Resources Control Board is considering a measure that would impose $500 fines for Californians who waste water, effective April 1.

Starting April 1, water wasters could be fined $500 under new rules the State Water Board is considering next week. If passed, which is likely, the rules would be permanent. Max Gomberg is the water conservation and climate change manager at the State Water Resources Control Board. He joined Take Two to talk about the proposed rules and fines for water wasters.

Under the new regulations, the following wasteful practices would be prohibited:



1) Using potable water to wash sidewalks and driveways.



2) Allowing more than incidental runoff when irrigating turf and other ornamental landscapes.



3) Using hoses without automatic shutoff nozzles to wash motor vehicles.



4) Using potable water in ornamental fountains or decorative water features that do not recirculate the water.



5) Irrigating turf and ornamental landscape during and within 48 hours following measurable rainfall.



6) Hotels and motels laundering towels and linens daily without providing guests the option of using them again.



7) During a drought emergency, the serving of drinking water in restaurants and bars without it being requested.

Drought-stricken California hopes to save some water by not serving it to restaurant patrons who don't ask for it. Other water-conservation measures aren't so straightforward.
Paul Sancya/AP
Drought-stricken California hopes to save some water by not serving it to restaurant patrons who don't ask for it. Other water-conservation measures aren't so straightforward.

How California will enforce the $500 fines

It's really going to be a function of community response -- if someone sees one of these practices going on and thinks it's bad enough to warrant a complaint. We won't have people patrolling the streets looking for this stuff, but if we receive a complaint and it looks like a severe violation, we'll look into it. Like any investigation, it will require actual evidence that the violation is taking place, so photos, having multiple people corroborate the story.

State water regulators will release water use numbers for June today, which will show how Californians are responding to the state’s mandate to cut water use by a quarter from last year, or face penalties.
Jeff Archer/Flickr
State water regulators will release water use numbers for June today, which will show how Californians are responding to the state’s mandate to cut water use by a quarter from last year, or face penalties.

The most common water waste violations

The most common violation is the over watering of landscapes, so you've got a sprinkler system that hasn't been programmed in a while. It's running at night, the water's running off into the street, into the gutter. People are watering when it's raining. And then we have a lot of irrigation of turf in medians that the city is watering. 

HESPERIA, CA - JULY 28:  Sprinklers water the lawns of a new housing development July 28, 2005 in Hesperia, California. California's demand for water will jump by 40 percent over the next 25 years according to a study released this week by the Public Policy Institute of California. Half of all the water used by inland homeowners, where growth is booming, goes to irrigating yards, compared to one third or less in the cooler coastal regions.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
David McNew/Getty Images
HESPERIA, CA - JULY 28: Sprinklers water the lawns of a new housing development July 28, 2005 in Hesperia, California. California's demand for water will jump by 40 percent over the next 25 years according to a study released this week by the Public Policy Institute of California. Half of all the water used by inland homeowners, where growth is booming, goes to irrigating yards, compared to one third or less in the cooler coastal regions. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

How much water is being wasted

We don't know how much water is wasted these ways. The reason for doing this is to be sure we're being efficient with our water use at all times across the state because climate change is already affecting our hydrology. We really have to be efficient as the state continues to grow and we deal with new challenging hydrology. It's about awareness and best practices.

The Renovated Fountain in Grand Park. Vistors will be able to feel the water and keep cool as they walk4 near the fountain.
Andres Aguila/KPCC
The Renovated Fountain in Grand Park. Vistors will be able to feel the water and keep cool as they walk4 near the fountain.

The new water waste regulations will be permanent

The science of climate change is really clear in terms of what it's doing to the hydrology of California. It will be more extreme. We will have very wet years but also very, very dry years like some of the years we just experienced, so we have to deal with that new reality and be efficient with our water use. A lot of these regulations were already on the books in many local jurisdictions. We're saying this is now a statewide issue and we need to set the floor and have consistency of rules statewide.

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