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Water-wasters in California to pay $500

Staff writer |
California water regulators approved fines of $500 for washing cars, watering lawns or hosing down sidewalks after finding out that residents have increased consumption despite calls for cutbacks.

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Governor Jerry Brown had urged a voluntary 20% reduction in water use, but data indicated a drop of only 5% statewide. The State Water Resources Control Board updated the monthly survey from water districts to show that consumption had increased 1% in May compared with a year ago.

The board proposed banning watering lawns, washing cars or sidewalks and running fountains, with violators facing fines up to $500 a day. On Tuesday evening, the board adopted those measures. Police will have the authority to ticket water-wasters.

Should the restrictions and fines prove inadequate, other steps could include even tighter rules for landscaping and possibly higher rates for wasteful consumers. Water agencies may also be required to fix their leaking pipes, which waste about 10% of all water used.

Two regions accounted for the reported increase are the coast of Southern California and the northeastern corner of the state. The San Francisco Bay Area and cities in Southern California that tap the Colorado River reduced their use by 5%.

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