California’s drought has hit the Hollywood enclave of Beverly Hills particularly hard.
Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered state water regulators to formulate a plan to cut statewide water usage by 25 percent. In response, the State Water Resources Control Board came up with a plan that would reward cities and communities with a strong track record of conservation by ordering them to reduce their water use by a lesser percentage, while water-wasting cities would get slapped with stricter cutbacks.
So, for example, water-conscious San Francisco was ordered to cut its water use by 8 percent, while Los Angeles was ordered to cut use by 16 percent.
However, some cities were ordered to slash water use by an astonishing 36 percent. Beverly Hills, with its lush lawns, swimming pools and front-yard water fountains, was one of those cities hit with the steeper rate. The Beverly Hills City Council, charged with implementing the water cutback plan, announced it would use a tiered water rate plan to charge those using the most water more, and would issue $1,000 fines to the most egregious water wasters.
And now, Hollywood is responding. Some celebrities, like The Talk host Sharon Osbourne, are changing their bathroom habits.
“When I pee, I don’t flush,” Osbourne told the Hollywood Reporter, adding that she’s stopped taking baths. “Only when I do number two, I flush.”
Others, like actress Kate Walsh and rocker Billy Ray Cyrus, are replacing their landscaping with drought-resistant alternatives.
“I changed my landscaping last year and made it gravel and succulents and desert plants,” Cyrus told THR. “It looks cool and saves water.”
Those changing out their lawns with less water-intensive plants are probably doing the most to combat the drought. In crafting the statewide water cutback plan, State Water Resources Control Board chairwoman Felicia Marcus said that communities facing the steepest cuts could easily reduce a large percentage of water use by simply cutting back on outdoor irrigation. Beverly Hills’ new water rules reflect that point: residents are limited to watering their lawns just twice per week.
Still, the city’s water cutback target is so high that even if everyone cut their lawns out, the city wouldn’t hit its 36 percent conservation mark.
“Landscape watering accounts for 60 percent to 70 percent of our total use, with the majority of irrigation use coming from single and multifamily properties, 75 percent of our customers,” Public Works Services assistant director Trish Rhay told THR. “Going from three to two days a week with 100 percent compliance would only produce a 30 percent reduction and will not get us to 36 percent, which is the state requirement. We’ll need to see additional reductions in home and business use to meet that goal.”
Hollywood’s major film studios are reportedly aiding in the effort. Companies like Fox Studios and Warner Brothers have reportedly put in artificial turf and more efficient irrigation systems in an effort to do their part.
But not everyone is helping: most of Beverly Hills’ exclusive golf clubs are not saying how they plan to reduce water usage, though it is a safe bet to predict they will stay green. One course, at the Lakeside Golf Club, reportedly uses recycled water to irrigate its greens and fairways.
“So, fortunately the mandate won’t affect our course,” Lakeside superintendent Robert Hertzing told THR.
For now, Beverly Hills residents will have to be conscious of the little things to help do their part.
“I don’t run the shower now until I am ready,” LL Cool J told the outlet.