California businesses face lawn watering ban amid historic drought conditions

Low tide at Lac d'Oroville
Low water at Lake Oroville in Butte County in March. Drone photo courtesy of California Department of Water Resources

The State Water Resources Control Board voted on Tuesday to ban the watering of non-functioning turf at commercial, industrial and institutional properties, the latest in a series of measures aimed at conserving water amid historic drought.

The ban – which does not include turf in residences or turf used for recreational or community purposes – will come into effect once approved by the Office of Administrative Law, which usually takes about 10 days, according to the council. Violations of the ban would be subject to a fine of up to $500.

The council also voted to require local agencies to implement water use restrictions — those limits currently only cover about half of California’s population. The restrictions aim to address a water supply shortage that has been estimated at 20%.

“The severity of this drought is forcing all Californians to save water in every way possible,” said Joaquin Esquivel, chairman of the State Water Board. “The regulations require water systems and local authorities to implement a series of additional critical conservation measures as we enter the hot, dry summer months.”

The board meeting came a day after Governor Gavin Newsom renewed his calls for strict water conservation measures across California during a meeting with top urban water providers. of State. Newsom’s warning at that meeting was this: If local efforts aren’t saving enough water, the state will have to step in and impose mandatory restrictions.

“Each state water agency needs to take more aggressive steps to communicate the drought urgency and implement conservation measures,” he said. “California have made significant changes since the last drought, but we have seen an increase in water use, especially as we approach the summer months. We all need to think more about how to ensure that every drop counts.”

Newsom will meet with the agencies again in two months to provide an update on conservation efforts. He also asked them to submit water use data more frequently and increase transparency so the state can more accurately measure whether it is meeting its conservation goals.

The City of Los Angeles has already moved forward on stricter water use limits.

Beginning June 1, the city will enact two-day outdoor watering restrictions — down from three currently — with watering allowed at odd addresses on Mondays and Fridays, and at even addresses on Thursdays and Sundays.

Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District, which supplies water to much of the region, has ordered areas that rely on water from the State Water Project to reduce outdoor watering to one day a week.

“Metropolitan agrees with and supports the Governor’s urgent call for increased water conservation and reduced water use as we approach the hotter, drier summer months,” said MWD Director General Adel Hagekhalil on Monday. “We appreciate the governor’s collaborative approach to addressing statewide drought conditions by allowing water agencies to determine water-saving actions appropriate to the specific circumstances of their communities. “

So far, San Diego County has not faced restrictions thanks to the Carlsbad desalination plant and investments in other water sources.

Banning the watering of decorative lawns would save between 156,000 and 260,000 acre-feet per year, equivalent to the water used by 780,000 households in one year, according to Newsom’s office.

The governor’s office also urged people to shower for just five minutes or less, stop taking baths, only wash full loads of clothes and use a broom instead of a hose to clean spaces. exteriors.

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