After three public hearings and a long night of debate Tuesday, the California Water Resources Control Board — a branch of the state Environmental Protection Agency that regulates water use — initiated conservation measures that apply to every part of the state.
Four board members voted unanimously for mandatory water restrictions that include forbidding watering outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff onto paved areas, using a hose to wash a car unless the hose is fitted with a nozzle that can be shut off, putting water on any hard surface and using water in a fountain or other decorative feature unless the water is recirculated.
People who violate the order may be fined up to $500 for each day they ignore the restrictions.
Local water suppliers must monitor water use in their jurisdiction and submit a report to the board by the 15th of each month while the order is in effect.
The vote followed a staff report that showed that water consumption in California rose 1 percent in May compared with May 2013. Gov. Jerry Brown had asked Californians for a voluntary 20 percent decrease in his declaration of a drought emergency on Jan. 17.
After the vote, the board issued a news release with a statement from Chairwoman Felicia Marcus.
“We are facing the worst drought impact that we or our grandparents have ever seen,” Marcus wrote in the release. “And, more important, we have no idea when it will end. This drought’s impacts are being felt by communities all over California. Fields are fallowed; communities are running out of water, fish and wildlife will be devastated. The least that urban Californians can do is to not waste water on outdoor uses. It is in their self-interest to conserve more, now, to avoid far more harsh restrictions, if the drought lasts into the future. These regulations are meant to spark awareness of the seriousness of the situation, and could be expanded if the drought wears on and people do not act.”
The order is expected to go into effect Aug. 1.
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