Here Are The Things California Water-Wasters Can Now Be Fined For

New emergency regulations ban watering your driveway and using fresh water in a fountain.

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=179529179&src=id">Mahathir Mohd Yasin</a>/Shutterstock

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This story was originally published in Grist and is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Here’s a list of things that could now get you fined up to $500 a day in California, where a multi-year drought is sucking reservoirs and snowpacks dry:

  • Spraying so much water on your lawn or garden that excess water flows onto non-planted areas, walkways, parking lots, or neighboring property.
  • Washing your car with a hose that doesn’t have an automatic shut-off device.
  • Spraying water on a driveway, a sidewalk, asphalt, or any other hard surface.
  • Using fresh water in a water fountain—unless the water recirculates.

Those stern emergency regulations were adopted Tuesday by a unanimous vote of the State Water Resources Control Board – part of an effort to crack down on the profligate use of water during critically lean times.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) asked the state’s residents to voluntarily conserve water in January, but they didn’t. Rather, as the San Jose Mercury News reports, “a new state survey released Tuesday showed that water use in May rose by 1 percent this year, compared with a 2011-2013 May average.”

Californians use more water on their gardens and lawns than they use inside their homes, as shown in the following chart from a document prepared for the board members ahead of Tuesday’s vote. So the new rules focus on outdoor use.

California water use

Extreme drought is now affecting 80 percent of the Golden State. Some 400,000 acres of farmland could be fallowed due to water shortages, and water customers in the hardest-hit communities are having their daily water supplies capped at less than 50 gallons per person.

The California Landscape Contractors Association sees an upside, though. It expects that the threats of fines could convince Californians to hire its members to replace thirsty nonnative plants in their gardens with drought-hardy alternatives. “If the runoff prohibition is enforced at the local level, we expect it to result in a multitude of landscape retrofits in the coming months,” association executive Larry Rohlfes told the water board in a letter dated Monday, one of a large stack of letters sent by various groups and residents in support of the new rules. “The water efficient landscapes that result will help the state’s long-term conservation efforts—in addition to helping the state deal with a hopefully short-term drought emergency.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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