California Imposes Water Restrictions as Drought Continues

FILE – In this June 5, 2015, file photo, Tony Corcoran records sprinklers watering the lawn in front of a house in Beverly Hills, Calif. In the coming months, state officials will undertake a monumental task of rewriting conservation orders for a fifth year of drought. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Californians won’t be able to water their lawns for 48 hours after rainstorms starting at the end of January.

State regulators adopted the mandatory water restrictions on Tuesday as a drought continues throughout California. Despite heavy rain and snow in December, the rules may go into place in a matter of weeks.

All residents should read the fine print as there are exceptions to the rules. For example, Californians cannot let their sprinklers run onto the sidewalk, however, trees in street medians can be watered. Failure to follow the rules could result in a fine of up to $500 per day.

The State Water Resources Control Board’s action comes as Californians continue to fall short on Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for a voluntary 15% reduction in water use compared to last year. NBC reported, between July and November, the state’s water usage went down just 6%.

“Conserving water and reducing water waste are critical and necessary habits for everyone to adopt as we adjust to these uncertainties and we build resilience to climate change, so adopting emergency regulations now just makes sense,” said Eric Oppenheimer, chief deputy director for the state water board. “We need to be prepared for continued drought.”

California adopted similar restrictions during the five-year drought that ended in 2017. 

State water board officials did not say how many of California’s nearly 40 million people will be under rules or exactly how much water they expect to save.

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