Acknowledging that California’s water conservation efforts are falling short as the state descends into a fourth year of punishing drought, the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday imposed new mandatory water conservation rules that will affect millions of people — from how homeowners water their lawns to how restaurants and hotels serve their guests.
In January 2014, the governor declared a statewide drought emergency and asked Californians to cut water use by 20 percent voluntarily. But the state’s urban and suburban residents have fallen short of that goal, cutting water use by only 9.7 percent from June to January, compared with the prior year.
- Ban all restaurants, bars and hotels from serving water unless customers ask for it.
- Require all hotels and motels to provide signs in rooms telling guests that they have the option of choosing not to have towels and linens washed daily.
- Ban Californians from watering lawns and landscaping with potable water within 48 hours after measurable rainfall.
- Require cities, counties, water districts and private companies to limit lawn watering to two days a week if they aren’t already limiting lawn and landscape watering to a certain number of days a week. The rule applies to all 411 water providers with more than 3,000 customers in California, covering more than 95 percent of the state’s population. But there is a loophole: If water providers are already limiting days of the week, even if it is to three or more days, they can continue with those rules and not restrict watering to two days a week.
The lawn-watering provisions are expected to have the most impact. That’s because outdoor irrigation makes up 44 percent of water use in California’s urban and suburban communities, according to the state water board.
There is no enforcement, however. The district has a hotline to report violations, and it calls, visits or sends emails to violators. But it has no ordinance on its books to allow the agency to issue fines.
The state continues to request that people adhere to the State Water Board’s mandatory restrictions on outdoor urban water use. State residents who wish to report water waste in their community are encouraged to visit gswater.com/report‐water‐waste or contact Golden State Water’s 24‐hour Customer Service Center at 800‐999‐4033.
We also encourage the responsible use of water and offers rebates, online resources, tools and information at gswater.com to help customers identify opportunities to improve their water‐use efficiency.