California water-wasters may get a $500 fine

2014-07-15 13:21
Groundskeeper Sanjay Ram, right,of the Department of General Services, waters plants lining the sidewalk around the state Capitol. (Rich Pedroncelli, AP)

Groundskeeper Sanjay Ram, right,of the Department of General Services, waters plants lining the sidewalk around the state Capitol. (Rich Pedroncelli, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sacramento - In one of the most drastic responses yet to California's drought, state regulators on Tuesday will consider fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water on landscaping, fountains, washing vehicles and other outdoor uses.

The rules would prohibit the watering of landscaping to the point that runoff spills onto sidewalks or streets. Hosing down sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces would be banned along with washing vehicles without a shut-off nozzle.

Violations would be infractions punishable by the fines, although most cities are likely to have a sliding scale that starts with a warning and increases for repeat violations.

The state water resources control board said it received about 100 written comments after it proposed the emergency regulations last week.

"So far, people have been pretty supportive", board Chairperson Felicia Marcus said. "I think people recognise that we're taking a moderate approach and we're sending a message as much as anything."

The board estimates that the proposed restrictions could save enough water state-wide to supply more than 3.5 million people for a year. That's enough to meet the needs of nearly nine of every 10 Los Angeles residents.

But that doesn't mean the proposal is free of concerns.

Excessive

San Francisco officials worry about the prohibition on washing streets and sidewalks. Public works department spokesperson Rachel Gordon said that could interfere with the frequent cleaning of alleys to wash away human waste where there are high concentrations of homeless people.

"We feel very strongly that this is a health and safety issue for people in San Francisco", she said.

Nor does it do much for tourism if visitors see or smell the waste. During the past 12 months, she said the city responded to about 8 000 calls to steam clean streets of human waste.

The proposed state regulations already provide exceptions when health or safety is at risk, but Gordon said San Francisco wants to make sure it doesn't run afoul of the rules even as it takes other steps to conserve water.

Some water agencies have said the proposed fines are a good way to get residents' attention, while others say the steps aren't needed to meet Governor Jerry Brown's goal of a 20% reduction in water use.

Roseville, a suburb of Sacramento, has seen its water use decline about 16% this spring without widespread fines, said Lisa Brown, the city's water conservation administrator. City employees are sent to warn wasters and administrative fines are imposed on those who don't comply.

The city says the infractions proposed by the state board are criminal penalties that would have to be issued by sworn police officers.

A $500 fine "is excessive and could cause more problems", Lisa Brown said in an email. "The time it would take to collect payment for a penalty would be better served educating our customer base."

The state water board says tickets could be written by any public employee empowered to enforce laws, not just police. Marcus said there is no intent to undermine current practices by any local agency.
Read more on:    us  |  environment  |  drought  |  water  |  conservation

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.