Feature: California imposes first-ever statewide emergency water regulations

(The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2014 - 9:02am

LOS ANGELES (Xinhua) - It is now illegal for Californians to use a hose to wash a car without a shut-off nozzle or hose down a driveway or sidewalk. Obey the rules for 270 days, unless renewed, otherwise face fines of up to $500 per violation.

These and other unprecedented new restrictions on outdoor water use were approved by the State Water Resources Control Board on a 4-0 vote on July 15 and formally took effect on Tuesday. They apply to both residents and business owners.

The new regulations also forbid adding water to decorative water features unless the water recirculates and watering outdoor landscapes if it causes excess runoff. They came just months after California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in January, marking what may become the most populous US state's worst drought in centuries.

Although the state government emphasizes the importance of conserving water, and Gov. Brown had set a goal of having the consumption of water decreased by 20 percent in January, a new state survey showed that Californians actually increased their water use by 1 percent amid the drought.

"People just did not realize how bad the drought is. Although the government has advocated that we should conserve water all the time, people just seems to ignore it. They over-use the water and leave the sprinklers on for whole day," said Frank Garcetti, a citizen of Alhambra.

In some parts of the third largest US state by area, 50 percent or more of the water used goes onto lawns and other outdoor landscaping, state officials say.

The State Water Resources Control Board believes the conservation steps are crucial as what is now a three-year drought shows no signs of abating. Although it is just a trial for 270 days, positive effects are expected by the state government.

In response to the first-ever state mandatory water restrictions, many cities, including Santa Monica, Pasadena and Alhambra, applied the corresponding actions and required residents to follow the new rules.

Pasadena declared a local water emergency and established a 20 percent conservation goal. Watering is limited to three days per week in summer, one day per week in winter and requires that leaks be repaired within 72 hours. Besides fines for repeat offenders of up to $500 per violation for residential customers, the commercial accounts will bear up to $1,000 per violation.

"To our citizens, we require every household irrigate their front yard lawn twice per week. Once they irrigate the lawn, they have to wait for three days for next irrigation. We did not set fixed date for watering, just the interval time is three days," said Mayor of Alhambra Stephen Sham. "In addition, people cannot water the plant from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m."

The city also requires no use of water to fill or maintain levels in decorative fountains, ponds, lakes and similar structures unless such structure is equipped with a water recycling system. Besides, Alhambra has assigned four code enforcement officers to supervise the community of water usage.

While all the cities are keen in conserving water, the massive water break in University of California, Los Angeles, on Tuesday, the same day that the water regulation took effect, no doubt put a lot of pressure on the City of Santa Monica. The rupture of the city water line caused a loss of 20 million gallons of water, and caused part of Los Angeles infrastructure crisis.

"For the almost 100-year-old city like Santa Monica and Alhambra, the maintenance on the aged pipes is necessary. In order to avoid the consequence that the City of Santa Monica is facing, we are currently taking actions to maintain the pipes in our city, " said Sham. "However it is a longitudinal project, and it is estimated to take up to 10 years to finish and will cost about $47 million."

Besides the basic rules for controlling excessive watering that mandated by the state government, Santa Monica is asking for voluntary 20 percent reduction for their residencies.

"We are drought, right? Obviously we need to save the water. We cut our watering down to two days a week, and we make sure that all the sprinklers are working and everything, and it doesn't run out to the sidewalk, into the street, so, you know, we are trying to do our part," said Steven Williams, a citizen of Los Angeles.  


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with