Californians facing $500 a day water fines

July 11, 2014

water2After very few Californians listened to Gov. Jerry Brown plea to conserve water, the state is poised to slap water wasters with fines of up to $500 a day. [Mercury News]

The state Water Resources Control Board is set to consider implementing new regulations next week that would permit up to $500 a day fines for landscape watering that runs off from the area of landscaping, using water to clean hard surfaces such as walkways, washing automobiles without shut off nozzle on a hose or using non-recirculated fountains. Indoor water usage will not be effected.

After Brown asked Californians to voluntarily cut water usage by 20 percent, Californians cut their water usage by only 5 percent.

The proposed rules also require urban water suppliers to implement plans to restrict customers’ outdoor water use if they haven’t done so already. Agencies that do not comply face fines of up to $10,000 per day.

About 4 percent of California’s urban water is used to irrigate landscaping.


The state’s water resources control board already is in charge of authorizing discharger permits for stream and ocean We need more funding for reclamation. I say the state should better utilize funding that would go into unequal and unmanageable enforcement like this, instead providing manageable and usable reclamation.

Jorge Estrada

This law likely will have exceptions for Oracle Oak Way, Santa Margarita, as shown on Google Maps (end of the road). The Greenies appear to be exempt from water wasting and contamination. Are those stagnant ponds dumping warm into a live trout stream? A $10,000 a day fine levied against the Water Quality Board, Fish and Game, EPA, and more? Fat chance.

Again this law will likely only affect you city folks, that’s where all those agencies are that will have to do their job in the name of saving taxpayer funded penalty dollars.


Now he has 20 votes. The ranchers and particularly vineyards have more money for deeper water wells that drain water from the individual family well owners who can’t afford to chase the water by digging deeper wells.

It particularly frosts me when I’ve seen all the signs along the I-5 corridor with Farmer Brown (and family) holding a pitchfork saying, “we want more water…” and then continue through the fields and STILL see FLOOD irrigating and watering during the middle of a 105 degree day!!! What’s wrong with conservative watering at the beginning of the day before evaporation takes it’s toll??? Seems like they should take a lesson from organic gardening and mulch their fields instead of burning their organic waste…

Remember much of our underground water comes from the Sierras. The wasteful habits of these mega valley farmers help deplete our resources, even for our farmers and vineyards and particularly the small family well owners.


Forgot to mention midday overhead sprinkling. For the record I live off of City well water.


I’m not sure what source Cal Coast News used regarding water use, but outdoor irrigation is usually significantly more than 4% of the total urban water use. In general, standard in the industry for calculating outdoor use is to calculate the difference between summer use and winter use and consider that difference to be water used as outdoor irrigation. (e.g. In winter I use 6 units. In summer, I use 10 units. 10 – 6 = 4, so on average 4 units is used outdoors…which when averaged over a whole community of homes mostly accounts for the actual margin of error).

Most folks in the water industry here in California would agree something closer to 30-40% in summer, non-drought times is used for landscaping. Homes with irrigation systems tend to use more than most people realize.

Most of the time, Cambria lives under ordinances that mostly match what the State is proposing. During this crisis, Cambria has cut back by 40% under some fairly reasonable additional restrictions:

** Limitation of 50 gallons per person, per day for indoor use (which is the same amount as Los Osos are limited to as a condition of their wastewater treatment plant and slightly more than a home built with the most water wasting indoor fixtures available).

** No potable water (drinking water) for outdoor watering.

** Surcharges for violators.

The vast majority of Cambrians are exceeding the reductions the Cambria CSD has asked of them. Less than 10% of all accounts went over their allocation in the last billing cycle.

Let’s use this opportunity to start getting the facts out and be more specific than “I don’t use much” or “I am using a lot less”. EPA is a great source of information (look for “WaterSense”). There are also great resources through the State of California and the California Urban Water Conservation Council.

If you live in a town with a water supplier that provides more than 3,00 acre feet a year or has more than 3,000 accounts, you usually can find out about your town’s water supply and use in the “Urban Water Management Plan” that each district must file about every 5 years.

I also like Aguanomics (dot) com, a website dedicated to examining the intersection of economics and water use. Or USGS at http:// watuse/