During California Megadrought, One Valley Town Says Water Conservation Isn’t For Them

Coburn Palmer

California is in the fourth year of a devastating drought, with reservoirs running dry and a million farming acres left unplanted, but that doesn't matter to the city of Bakersfield.

Home to 360,000 people, the city sent a letter to the water board this week asking for an exception from the statewide water restrictions announced recently, Bakersfield city manager Alan Tandy told 23 ABC News.

"When we're in a climate where it's 108 or 110 in July and August, the landscaping, the grass takes more water than say the coastal areas where that same temperature's 40 degrees lower on those dates."

California water officials announced measures this week to force communities to cut back their water consumption during the drought by as much as 35 percent, but San Francisco and 23 other cities only face an 8 percent cut.

That's because the cutbacks are designed to impact major water users the most during the drought.

It's a nine-tier system designed to benefit those who have conserved water in the past and punish those who haven't.

There are 94 mostly Southern Californi, cities slated for the 35 percent tier.

Justin Skarb, spokesman for the private California Water Services utility, told the San Francisco Chronicle communities will probably move to set water allocations for their customers during the drought.

California utilities that don't hit their water consumption targets during the drought could be fined up to $500 a day.

"I think it will be a little difficult for some people who haven't been paying attention. But I think most Californians recognize that we're in a serious drought."

It was the California city most likely to run out of water last summer and came within 60 to 120 days of drying up.

That didn't stop city officials from operating city spray water parks through the hottest and driest summer days though.

The state water board finally stepped in and forced the city to shut down its spray water parks in August without the city council's approval when it moved to a Stage 3 drought condition.

Bakersfield isn't alone in making complaints to the state board.

Letters have been submitted from 200 interest groups and water agencies across the state that argue the water cuts during the drought are bad for business and too demanding.

San Diego, however, has taken matters into its own hands and dusted of its desalination plants it plans to bring online this summer to ease drought conditions.

William Shatner has also gotten into the mix with a $30 billion kickstarter campaign to build a pipeline to Seattle and pump water down the coast to ease drought conditions in the parched state.

"Bring it down here and fill one of our lakes! Lake Mead!"