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Bill Handel

Fines For Wasting Water Approved

 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Reservoirs are running dry, the Capitol's lawn has turned brown, and farmers have left hundreds of thousands of acres unplanted.

Even so, many Californians aren't taking the drought seriously. State water regulators are trying to change that by imposing fines up to $500 a day for wasting water.

The State Water Resources Control Board acted Tuesday amid warnings that conditions could get worse if it doesn't rain this winter.

City and suburban residents often are not fully aware of the seriousness of the three-year drought — the worst in California since the mid-1970s, board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said in an interview after the 4-0 vote.

The vote is historic, she said, not only because the steps are unprecedented in California but because the board is trying to spread the burden of the drought beyond farmers and agencies that are trying to protect wildlife.

"We're all in this together," Marcus said.

Yet consumption throughout the state actually rose by 1 percent in May, according to a report from the board, while Gov. Jerry Brown is seeking a 20 percent reduction in water use.

"We're taking the prudent step of taking action as if it's not going to rain for more years, because we know that's possible," Marcus said.

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