California, where I live, is in the midst of a severe drought, with 2013 being the driest calendar year in the state’s history. Naturally, people are distraught over all the implications, from agricultural irrigation to effects on wildlife habitats to personal home use. The prevailing reaction has been a call to conservation and up until recently that has largely been a voluntary statewide initiative. Guilt and public shame, it has been hoped, would be enough to dissuade a wicked and greedy overconsumption of water.
This, apparently has not been enough, as status quo usage is wildly unsustainable, and on July 15 the State Water Resources Control Board and Governor Jerry Brown approved measures that will allow law enforcement to issue fines of up to $500 per day for households that are visibly wasting water. Unacceptable behavior include hosing off sidewalks and driveways, irrigating laws to the point of visible runoff, washing cars without a shutoff valve on the hose, and using potable water in non-circulating fountains. Additionally, municipal water agencies are tasked with implementing further restrictions or else risk incurring a $10,000 fine. Continue reading