Officials in California imposed a number of water regulations on local agencies across the state Tuesday and threatened tougher measures in an effort to save the drought-parched state.
The State Water Resources Control Board mandated drought parched California cities limit the number of days residents can water their lawns and also prohibited landscape irrigation for two days after it rains.
Regulators hope to bring some relief to the drought parched state by passing other regulations Tuesday, including allowing hotel guests to reuse their towels if they wish and mandating restaurants only serve patrons water upon request.
Although the changes are modest, they represent a sweeping change for California, which, until now, has had no uniformity in water regulations across the state despite the severity of the drought.
Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, told the L.A. Times she was very concerned with the state’s conservation efforts to date in light of the ongoing drought.
“We are not seeing the level of stepping up and ringing the alarm bells that the situation warrants.”
A recent report from NASA estimated California has only one year of water left in its reservoirs and residents are becoming increasingly concerned about the ongoing drought.
California, home to more than 3 million residents, is facing its fourth year of a devastating drought and needs about 11 trillion gallons of water to recover, according to an Inquisitr report.
California gets about 90 percent of its water supply during the rainy season between December and April, and this winter has been especially dry. The state also just experienced its hottest winter on record, resulting in record low levels of snowfall making an already bad drought worse.
For the second year in a row, California has chosen not to allocate any reservoir water to central valley farmers because of ongoing drought conditions, forcing them to tap into groundwater supplies.
Those farmers have been forced to leave at least a million acres unplanted, according to the New York Times.
The California drought has also increased the number of water thieves across the state as neighbors tap into each other’s pipes.
Saving The State
California’s water restrictions, imposed for the first time Tuesday in an effort to aid the drought stricken state, will aid lagging conservation efforts.
Gov. Jerry Brown has asked California for a 20 percent reduction in water usage, but residents have only managed to cut their consumption by 10 percent despite the ongoing drought, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
If local agencies don’t act to restrict their resident’s irrigation, the state board will enact a two-day a week watering restriction and increase fines.
So far, the hardest hit communities, like Santa Cruz, have responded to the drought on their own by dramatically increasing the number and amount of fines it issues.
In response to the California drought, Santa Barbara is dusting off a desalination plant at the cost of $40 million, and the Metropolitan Water District of California has plans to use $71 million to buy water from local farmers.
Paul J. Wenger, the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, told the New York Times the California drought would have far reaching consequences.
“This is going to affect everyone in the state. I can’t think of any part of the state where people aren’t going to be suffering from diminished water supplies.”