Environment & Science

With new drought regulations in place, are people feeling the pinch?

Water awareness is key to meeting new state-mandated goals, but not everyone is feeling the effects of the drought personally yet.
Water awareness is key to meeting new state-mandated goals, but not everyone is feeling the effects of the drought personally yet.
Photo by James Kirkus-Lamont via Flick Creative Common

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Individual Southern Californians are telling KPCC that they're not feeling the pinch of California’s first ever mandatory water reductions ... yet.

The state water board on Wednesday passed the new rules, meaning that cities across the state will have to cut usage by anywhere from 8 percent to 36 percent. Key to those reductions will be raising awareness about the need to conserve among everyday water users.

But people KPCC spoke to on Wednesday said they weren't feeling it. "I don't think it'll affect me much," said Billy Barrios.

He rents an apartment in Los Angeles and saves water by taking shorter showers and turning off the faucet when he brushes his teeth.

Like everyone else interviewed for this story, Barrios says the drought hasn't affected him personally. "For other people who water their lawns or having swimming pools, they'll probably feel it a lot more than I would," he added.

Brenda Countz of View Park does have a lawn and has cut down sprinkler use. She says she also saves water in other ways, like doing fewer loads of laundry and only running the dishwasher when it's full.

When asked if she could do more, she says no, not really. "Somebody else is going to have to do something. I’m doing everything I can do," she said.

Still, urban dwellers will have to do more to meet Gov. Jerry Brown's goal of reducing water use statewide by an average of 25 percent.

Landscaping is an easy target, since it's believed 70 percent of water use in Southern California goes toward landscaping irrigation.

That's why Bindiya Khurana of Pasadena will soon be talking with the other dwellers of her town house complex about swapping out their water hungry yards.

"We have a lot of landscaping, and we haven’t done anything about it," she said.

Still, Clifford Rooke of Santa Monica thinks that getting people to make major changes will take more than friendly reminders about turning off taps and limiting sprinklers.

"None of us will pay attention until we turn the faucet on, and it drips. That's the issue," he said.

Before that happens, water districts will likely get hit hard in the pocketbook first.

The state water board will be able to fine water agencies up to $10,000 dollars if they can't meet their water saving targets. Rate payers in those districts could end up footing some of those costs.