Attention, Californians: Your Water-Wasting Days Are Over

Californians’ reaction to their state’s record-breaking drought so far has been to shrug and hose down their cars.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a voluntary 20 percent reduction in water consumption has gone largely unheeded, and now the hammer is coming down. Sort of. On Tuesday, state regulators will consider imposing mandatory water restrictions for 270 days. While some California cities and counties have imposed water rationing, this is the first move to do so statewide.

Want to wash your car in the driveway? No go. Unless your hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle. And just be sure water doesn’t drip on the pavement. “The application of water to any hard surface, including, but not limited to, driveways, sidewalks, and asphalt” is strictly prohibited, according to the draft regulations to be voted on by the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).

Also banned: Excessive lawn watering and using nonrecycled water in fountains. Urban water suppliers will be required to limit their customers’ outdoor water use to two days a week.

And if you get caught violating the restrictions, it'll cost you $500 a day.

“The emergency regulations set a minimum standard requiring only modest lifestyle changes across the state,” wrote the SWRCB staff, recommending the board adopt the proposed measures. “Many communities are already doing more and have been for years. They should be commended, but can and should do more. Others are not yet doing so and should at least do this, but should do much more given the severity of the drought.”

Only 30 percent of urban water suppliers have enacted mandatory cuts in water consumption, according to the SWRCB. While California’s farmers have seen their irrigation water cut off, the state’s big cities have kept the taps running.

“Large cities in various regions of the state supplied by wholesale water agencies have relied upon stored reserves, and therefore may not have instituted significant conservation efforts so far this year,” the SWRCB staff noted. “Preliminary survey data suggests that urban water suppliers can do more to support water conservation by residents and businesses.”

Even so, state regulators for now are avoiding more draconian actions, such as imposing limits on residents' daily water consumption.

Getting individual Californians to take the drought seriously isn’t the only problem. When the SWRCB asked California’s 440 water suppliers to fill out a survey detailing their efforts to conserve water, 61 percent didn't bother to reply. 

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Original article from TakePart