Drought Update: Water Abusers Sent to 'Water School' in Santa Cruz

Drought Update: Water Abusers Sent to 'Water School' in Santa Cruz

Nothing quite as boring as sitting in that class after you get a ticket so you can avoid paying that hefty fine. Surprisingly, in this case we’re talking about Water School.

In Santa Cruz the above scenario is a reality for those who were issued a citation for excessive use of water. In an AP story reported by CBS8, every Monday night residents now have an option to attend Water School to reduce the fine for watering their lawn too much or not fixing that leaky pipe.

“We all know why you’re here. You all went over your allotment and got a big penalty,” Nik Martinelli, a water conservation specialist, says in his class to the H2O abusers who have become victims of a drought now entering its fourth year. And “big” these penalties are; Margaret Hughes received a $775 fine last month when her water bill amounted to $210.

A leaky toilet in a rental property she owned created the water use violation and forced Hughes to drive four hours to take the class. The two-hour Water School class culminates with a test asking the students to identify the community’s sparse water sources, list ways to conserve water, describe how to use their water meters to check for leaks.

Hughes has a good attitude about spending the time and putting up with the scolding. “They’re turning this into something positive,” she said, adding that she may take advantage of a $150 rip-out-your-lawn rebate she learned about in her class.

Water Education Foundation Deputy Director Sue McClurg thinks that Santa Cruz’s idea of going to Water School to learn about conservation could be helpful. “Most people just turn on the tap and don’t think about where their water comes from,” she said. “The more people learn about their source of drinking water, the more they learn about its management.”