Tags: california | water | drought | bill | restrictions | violators | fine

Calif. Proposal Would Increase Max Water-Wasting Fine to $10,000

By    |   Tuesday, 28 April 2015 07:23 PM

A new bill in California would punish violators of the state's water restrictions up to $10,000.

A press release details two bills proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, one of which increases the maximum fine for wasting water from $500 to $10,000.

Another bill would see state agencies help local water agencies comply with environmental reviews, which are mandated by the state.

"These measures will strengthen the ability of local officials to build new water projects and ensure that water is not wasted," Brown said. "As this drought stretches on, we'll continue to do whatever is necessary to help communities save more water."

According to the release, the proposals would:
  • Establish a new penalty of up to $10,000 per violation, expanding on $500 per day maximum infraction established in last year's drought legislation.
  • Allow penalties to be issued administratively by wholesale and retail water agencies, as well as city and county governments. This change speeds up an infraction process involving courts that was established in last year's emergency drought legislation.
  • Enable these entities to enforce local water restrictions against water waste, as well as conservation restrictions established by the State Water Resources Control Board.
  • Allow local public agencies to deputize staff to issue water conservation-related warnings and citations.
"This legislation will give all water agencies and local governments a consistent, minimum set of enforcement authorities to achieve required water conservation," the release reads. "Local water agencies with existing authorities to enforce against water waste can continue to use those authorities. Under the proposed legislation, any monetary penalties from this enforcement will be used for local conservation efforts."

California is in the midst of a serious drought that is threatening crops and the livelihoods of farmers.

Brown announced sweeping restrictions earlier this month after it was discovered the mountain snowpack that supplies a third of the state's water was well below its normal level.

Some experts say consumers are partly to blame for the drought, since there is a high demand for food products that require a lot of water, such as beef and certain crops.

Others point to the state's marijuana growing laws as a reason for having less water. A single cannabis plant was estimated to use about six gallons of water per day.

The state has tried to clamp down on high water users through restrictions, but reports say they're not always enforced.

"We are not seeing the level of enforcement we need to," said Heather Cooley, director of the water program at the nonprofit environmental group Pacific Institute in Oakland.

"Without it, you aren't getting the same amount of water savings."

Actor William Shatner proposed a solution to the drought last week: build a pipeline from the Seattle area to carry water to California.

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A new bill in California would punish violators of the state's water restrictions up to $10,000.
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Tuesday, 28 April 2015 07:23 PM
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