California Drought: $500 Fines for Wasting Water, Despite Recent Rains

California wasting water (Getty)

The California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has adopted water restrictions that include potential fines of $500, warning that the state is not free from a two-year drought despite heavy rains and record-setting snowfall in December.

The restrictions are as follows:

(A) The application of potable water to outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes more than incidental runoff such that water flows onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, or structures;
(B) The use of a hose that dispenses water to wash a motor vehicle, except where the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle or device attached to it that causes it to cease dispensing water immediately when not in use;

(C) The use of potable water for washing sidewalks, driveways, buildings, structures, patios, parking lots, or other hard surfaced areas, except in cases where health and safety are at risk;
(D) The use of potable water for street cleaning or construction purposes, unless no other method can be used to protect the health and safety of the public;
(E) The use of potable water for decorative fountains or the filling or topping-off of decorative lakes or ponds, with exceptions for those decorative fountains, lakes, or ponds that use pumps to recirculate water and only require refilling to replace evaporative losses;
(F) The application of water to irrigate turf and ornamental landscapes during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall of at least one fourth of one inch of rain. In determining whether measurable rainfall of at least fourth of one inch of rain occurred in a given area, enforcement may be based on records of the National Weather Service, the closest CIMIS station to the parcel, or any other reliable source of rainfall data available to the entity undertaking enforcement of this subdivision; and
(G) The use of potable water for irrigation of turf on public street medians or publicly owned or maintained landscaped areas between the street and sidewalk.

The Los Angeles Times added:

The regulations apply statewide and there are no exceptions for golf courses and other recreational facilities, said Jackie Carpenter, director of media relations for the state water board. There is a general exemption in the rules for water that’s necessary for public health and safety.

Violators could face fines of up to $500. The temporary rules, which will be in effect for one year, are similar to measures that were put in place during the last severe drought from 2012 to 2016. The rules also bar homeowners’ associations from fining residents who cut back on watering their lawns or other landscaping.

California recently saw heavy snowfall that broke the December record in the Sierra Nevada mountains, promising new water for the state as the snowpack melts. Tens of thousands of people in the mountains are still struggling without power, thanks to the intensity of the snow during the holidays. However, CalMatters noted that the state’s drought is not over yet:

California’s drought is not over despite a bounty of snowfall and rain over the past month: California’s snowpack — a critical source of water — is 150% of average for Jan. 4. But with three months left of the wet season, it’s not enough to bring an end to the severe drought and water shortages.

California still needs about another foot of snowpack by the end of March to reach its historic seasonal average, according to the state data. Almost 16 inches had accumulated by today.

The amount of water now stored is actually worse than last year at this time: The state’s reservoirs in December were projected to contain about 78% of average — compared to about 82% in 2020.

Unfortunately, the forecast for the rest of the winter remains dry, as the world is experiencing La Niña conditions.

One piece of good news is that Lake Oroville has risen 89 feet since the recent storms, allowing the dam’s hydroelectric plant, which shut down in August, to reopen on a limited basis. Hydroelectric power accounts for 10% of California’s use.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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