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On Tuesday, the State Water Board overwhelmingly passed a measure to start implementing fines for persons or business abusing water.
The State Water Board website states that due to the new state regulations, all Californians will be expected to stop: washing down driveways and sidewalks; watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff; using a hose to wash a motor vehicle unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle, and stop using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recalculated. The regulation makes an exception for health and safety circumstances. Overall Sacramento is using 14% less water than 1 year ago.
Local agencies could ask courts to fine water users up to $500 a day for failure to implement conservation requirements in addition to their existing authorities and processes. The State Water Board could initiate enforcement actions against water agencies that don’t comply with the new regulations.
Failure to comply with a State Water Board enforcement order by water agencies is subject to up to a $10,000 a day penalty.
On Wednesday morning, a day after the State Water Board made the decision to enforce a $500 fine for water abusers, finding violators in Auburn wasn’t hard to do. A carwash on Bowman road showed signs of what could be described as a violation under the new guidelines. The sprinkler runoff spills into the gutter and with a heavy stream of gallons of excess water running down into the sewer drain. The two planters in front of the business that are receiving the abundant water are decorated nicely with drought resistant hedges. According to a nearby business owner, the hedges are watered generously two times per day. She also said that she has made several complaints to the business owner about the water runoff.
Easley’s Nursery in Auburn suggests that established hedges only need watering once every seven to ten days. They also suggest that using bubblers or drip systems for watering can save gallons of water as opposed to a sprinkler system like the one at the carwash. “Unless they grow in a rainforest, you really don’t need to water them daily,” said Mike Runner, salesman at Eisley’s.
Water has been a precious commodity these days. Behind the carwash, Foothills Motel has limited their watering of their lawn to once per week. Foothills Motel manager Michael Johnson said that the hotel has switched off all sprinkler valves and is now manually watering the grounds.
“Our grounds don’t look all that great, but we are water conscious right now,” Johnson said.
Placer County Water Agencies’ website states that according to Einar Maisch, Director of Strategic Affairs at PCWA, the water company doesn’t have a policing staff or powers who could issue the state regulated citations that will begin on August 1st. They do have staff who will make visits to homes or business of people that have been reported to PCWA for wasting water. “We put a tag on the door to let them know they are in violation, and if we have to come back a second time, they will get a $50 fine,” Maisch said. Complaints have recently tripled from customers reporting water wasting incidents.
PCWA customers have reduced their consumption 15% from last year. Maisch says that Placer County doesn’t have enough water to meet the 100% demand so consumers are being asked to reduce water by a minimum of 10%, but ideally 20% would be desired during the drought.
For more water saving tips or to report a problem, visit www.pcwa.net