Californians Facing $500 Fines For Violating Water Restrictions In Drought-Stricken State

When you turn on the hose outside to wash your car or set up the sprinkler so the kids can run through it on a hot day, what kind of price tag would you put on that water use? If you’re living in some parts of California, there might be a price tag of $500 floating in front of your eyes as residents face hefty potential fines for violating new water restrictions in the drought-stricken state.

Regulators approved fines yesterday for washing cars, watering lawns and spraying sidewalks after numbers came in showing that residents have been using more water despite the call for reducing water use during California’s drought.

According to USA Today (warning: link has video that autoplays), this is the first emergency conservation measure the state has used to try to force its residents to take the three-year dry spell seriously.

Last week the State Water Resources Control Board proposed a ban on watering lawns, washing cars/sidewalks/driveways and running fountains. Violate those rules and you’ll face fines of $500 per day. The board officially adopted those measures last night.

“Not everybody in California understands how bad this drought is … and how bad it could be,” Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said before the vote. “There are communities in danger of running out of water all over the state.”

And if the hit to the wallet doesn’t work, the state might have to put even stricter rules in place, like requiring residents to fix leaking pipes.

Up to 80% of the state is in the midst of “exceptional drought conditions,” the board says, with about 50 communities facing serious water shortages. The drought is expected to last into next year.

Calif. OKs $500 fines for wasting water [USA Today]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.