First the drought ended. Now the last vestiges of mandatory conservation rules are over, too. California’s main water regulatory agency ended mandatory conservation regulations for urban residents Wednesday, following Gov. Jerry Brown’s official declaration that the drought ended April 7.
The stories are everywhere – record precipitation and snowpack in California, atmospheric rivers crashing across the Pacific Northwest and lingering above-average snowpack across Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. And while short-term relief is welcome, we shouldn’t break out the party hats quite yet.
Using less water is still critical to California’s future, state officials and water experts say. But now that Gov. Jerry Brown has declared an end to California’s historic drought, water agencies are easing up on some of the strict rules they put in place over the last few years.
With California in a severe drought, the State Water Resources Control Board ruled last week that some cases of water waste could be treated as criminal infractions. … The Sacramento Bee asked Sacramento utilities director Dave Brent how the city was dealing with the state’s latest ruling.
In a little-noticed provision of the regulations adopted Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board declared that public agencies – in addition to individuals and businesses – can be prosecuted for a criminal infraction and fined $500 per day for certain categories of water waste.
From the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA):
The recent mandatory water restrictions put in place by the state were the topic of an interview on July 16 by Judy Woodruff during the PBS News Hour of Timothy Quinn, ACWA Executive Director, and Craig Miller of KQED. Much of the focus of the interview was on just how serious the drought is and why the regulations are necessary right now.
From the PPIC Viewpoints blog, in a post by Caitrin Chappelle, Ellen Hanak and Jeffrey Mount:
The unprecedented restrictions on outdoor water use that the state enacted this week send a message that Californians need to conserve more water. But we can do more to move toward sustainable consumption.
On the same day the state approved mandatory outdoor watering restrictions with the threat of $500 fines, the Southern California couple received a letter from their city threatening a $500 penalty for not watering their brown lawn.
The state Water Resources Control Board released a survey this week that revealed that Californians actually have increased their water use amid the worst drought in decades — despite a spirited public-relations campaign about saving water.
Talk about mixed messages: While Gov. Jerry Brown is warning that California faces its worst drought since record-keeping began and regulators have approved fines of up to $500 for wasting water, some Southern California cities are continuing to issue warnings and citations to residents who let their lawns go brown.
The coastal region was cited along with the northeast corner of the state in a study released Tuesday as areas that saw significant increases in water use, even as Gov. Jerry Brown called for Californians to cut use by 20 percent.
California’s north-south water rivalry revved up Wednesday, a day after a state survey showed that while most of the drought-ravaged state modestly reduced its water consumption, coastal Southern California is headed in the wrong direction.
The State Water Board acted Tuesday to set minimum standards for water conservation, with the ability of local water providers to issue fines for blatant water use. But local water providers said residents are doing their part, overall.
California water officials on Tuesday approved a $500 fine to be imposed on water wasters and other measure to improve water conservation during the drought. Here are some answers to questions about Tuesday’s action: