California Restricts Water Use to Combat Drought

July 15, 2014

As a three-year drought continues to hit California, restrictions on water use are being levied across the state, not only on the agricultural sector, but also on private residences and businesses, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Around 60 California cities and agencies are imposing water use restrictions, with some cuts as high as 50 percent. Those who use excess water are charged higher fees, and some areas have dispatched inspectors to monitor water usage.

Sacramento has been the most aggressive in its water use crackdown.

  • In the first 5.5 months of 2014, the city issued 2,444 water violation notices. Repeat offenders have received fines.
  • Outdoor watering is allowed just two days a week in the capital city now.
  • The city has 40 inspectors who work to investigate water usage complaints. As of June 18, the city (with a population of 475,000) had received 7,604 complaints.
  • Second offenses in Sacramento result in a $50 fine, but the fine can be waived if the violator attends a class on water conservation.

Additionally, Sacramento is offering up to $1,000 to homeowners to replace their landscaping with vegetation that requires little water use. The offering is similar to incentives put in place in 1991 by the city of Las Vegas to encourage new plantings. Since then, 168 million square feet of growth in Las Vegas has been replaced with plants like cacti and other drought-tolerant vegetation.

The agriculture industry is suffering under the drought. In California alone, 400,000 acres of farmland will remain unplanted in 2014, costing $1.7 billion.

Source: Jim Carlton, "California Cities Crack Down on Water Use," Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2014

 

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