Starting April 1, water wasters could be fined $500 under new rules the State Water Board is considering next week. If passed, which is likely, the rules would be permanent. Max Gomberg is the water conservation and climate change manager at the State Water Resources Control Board. He joined Take Two to talk about the proposed rules and fines for water wasters.
Under the new regulations, the following wasteful practices would be prohibited:
1) Using potable water to wash sidewalks and driveways.
2) Allowing more than incidental runoff when irrigating turf and other ornamental landscapes.
3) Using hoses without automatic shutoff nozzles to wash motor vehicles.
4) Using potable water in ornamental fountains or decorative water features that do not recirculate the water.
5) Irrigating turf and ornamental landscape during and within 48 hours following measurable rainfall.
6) Hotels and motels laundering towels and linens daily without providing guests the option of using them again.
7) During a drought emergency, the serving of drinking water in restaurants and bars without it being requested.
How California will enforce the $500 fines
It's really going to be a function of community response -- if someone sees one of these practices going on and thinks it's bad enough to warrant a complaint. We won't have people patrolling the streets looking for this stuff, but if we receive a complaint and it looks like a severe violation, we'll look into it. Like any investigation, it will require actual evidence that the violation is taking place, so photos, having multiple people corroborate the story.
The most common water waste violations
The most common violation is the over watering of landscapes, so you've got a sprinkler system that hasn't been programmed in a while. It's running at night, the water's running off into the street, into the gutter. People are watering when it's raining. And then we have a lot of irrigation of turf in medians that the city is watering.
How much water is being wasted
We don't know how much water is wasted these ways. The reason for doing this is to be sure we're being efficient with our water use at all times across the state because climate change is already affecting our hydrology. We really have to be efficient as the state continues to grow and we deal with new challenging hydrology. It's about awareness and best practices.
The new water waste regulations will be permanent
The science of climate change is really clear in terms of what it's doing to the hydrology of California. It will be more extreme. We will have very wet years but also very, very dry years like some of the years we just experienced, so we have to deal with that new reality and be efficient with our water use. A lot of these regulations were already on the books in many local jurisdictions. We're saying this is now a statewide issue and we need to set the floor and have consistency of rules statewide.