Under a new executive order, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) said Californians will face heavy fines for overuse of the drought-ridden state’s water; the first time in history the entire state will have to abide by strict water restrictions. Brown announced the executive action Wednesday, aimed at reducing water usage by 25 percent across the state.
“This EO is requiring action and changes in behavior from the Oregon border all the way to the Mexican border. It affects lawns. It affects people’s — how long they stay in the shower. How businesses use water.”
The order will be enforced by local water districts. If people don’t comply with the new regulations, they can be fined $500 a day. Districts can go to court to get a cease and desist order.
The water shortage is pitting factions against one another. Farmers will largely be unaffected by the new emergency order. Some suggest that is due to the heavy influence of big agricultural interests. In an interview with Brown, ABC guest host Martha Raddatz pointed out, “More water is used for almond production than is used by all residents and businesses in San Francisco and Los Angeles combined.”
Brown countered by saying, “They’re not watering their lawn or taking long showers. They’re providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America. And a significant part of the world.”
The execution action calls for replacing 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping; requires campuses, cemeteries, golf courses and other large landscapes to significantly cut water use; and it’ll bar new homes and developments from watering “ornamental” grass on public street medians.
However, wealthy homeowners are thus far unmoved by the restrictions, in spite of their prolific water usage. A UCLA study found wealthy neighborhoods use three times more water than other Southern California cities, mostly on outdoor irrigation.
Right now, Beverly Hills residents have only been asked to turn off decorative fountains and stop hosing down driveways “voluntarily.” But the wealthy enclave may soon look very different. The city plans to cut private consumption through strict enforcement.
Researchers say California will need 11 trillion gallons of water to recover from this drought.
How are the water districts going to monitor this and keep up with who gets special allowances or not? This conservation program will be extremely difficult to enforce if not done across the board and in a fair manner, and it sounds like Brown is going to make a huge mess of this.
While allowing the farmers, who are the producers, extra watering privileges makes sense to some degree, I doubt the water districts are organized well enough to get a handle on this. It will create resentment between the farmers and the city dwellers, then there’s the issue of the rich people ignoring it because they can afford the fines.
We went through this locally a few years ago, and the well-off folks don’t mind the increased rates because their lawns & trees are more important than everyone else’s are. Do they have a clue they’re still lowering the water table, regardless of the rate? Doubtful.