California drought: Will public shaming stop water-use violators?

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Beverly Hills Is Fined for Using Too Much Water in Drought.

The water fights in the drought-plagued Golden State have escalated from social media snitches to public shaming and sizable monetary fines as California works toward a lasting reduction in water usage. But state regulators for the first time slapped $61,000 fines on four water suppliers, including the city of Beverly Hills, for failing to do their part in the historic drought. “Up and down the state, residents and water suppliers are making the necessary sacrifices needed to help California meet its conservation goals.Beverly Hills is in hot water, facing a hefty fine and public shaming for not conserving as much water as drought-stricken California standards require.

Four months into a state-mandated push to save water, California is making good on a promise to penalize scofflaws, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Some urban water suppliers, however, simply have not met the requirements laid before them,” said Cris Carrigan, director of the Office of Enforcement for the State Water Resources Control Board. “For these four suppliers, it’s been too little too late to achieve their conservation standard.” The hefty fines against Beverly Hills, Indio, Redlands and the Coachella Valley Water District mark a new phase in the mandatory conservation effort, which requires communities cut water use by 25 percent compared with 2013 levels. Upscale Beverly Hills is among four California cities whose water utilities have been fined for not forcing residents to conserve enough water during California’s unrelenting four-year drought, officials said on Friday. Carrigan also said he was “sure” there were other residents being “very conscientious and doing their part.” It’s unclear how Beverly Hills will pay the $61,000 fine. Now, Beverly Hills has become one of the first places in California to be slapped with fines for using too much water during the state’s devastating drought.

The districts have 20 days to appeal the fines, but the fines could also grow, so the state told the water districts to start going after individual residents who are violating water conservation rules. Mr Carrigan said if the cities failed to cut back on water usage, the fines — which amount to $US500 a day — could be ramped up to $US10,000 a day. Districts that are the heaviest users must cut the most under the plan, which set targets of 8 percent to 36 percent to reach the statewide goal of 25 percent. Beverly Hills, where some wealthy property owners continue to maintain lush green lawns despite orders to conserve, residents used about 169 gallons of water per person during September, compared with 68 gallons used by residents of Los Angeles. A recent University of California Los Angeles study stated on average wealthier neighbourhoods consumed three times more water than less affluent ones.

One former Beverly Hills resident, Richard Greene, said the fine was far too small for what he said was possibly the richest city in the country, if not the world. “Wow, ouch … That’s no thanks to Beverly Hills dwellers, who on average used 169 gallons each in September, compared to 68 gallons for each Los Angeles resident that month.

Beverly Hills officials said in a statement the city was striving to meet its water conservation goals and penalty surcharges had come into effect in October. “As such, the city is committed to continuing the outreach and implementing additional programs, such as new penalty surcharges, hiring additional staff to address water violations and developing individualised conservation programs that will help us achieve reductions we need.” George Murdoch, the municipal operations director, said the city has distributed educational material but is now taking more significant enforcement steps. It actually seems to minimize the importance of water conservation when you’re fining the wealthiest municipality $61,000, which is pocket change for most of the people you see walking up and down this street,” Greene said.

From June through September, urban areas used 28.1% less water than they did during the same months in 2013 — well above Brown’s statewide mandate, which requires an overall 25% reduction from June through February. If they do not get their water use down to the mandated levels, the state could issue cease-and-desist orders, which come with fines of up to $10,000 per day. Five valley water agencies have higher targets than the statewide 25% goal because per-capita water use is so high in the desert. “We want to work with these entities that have received these fines to get them to do better,” Carrigan said. “We don’t want the fine money. Marcus said heavy rain in Southern California would have little impact on the Sierra Nevada snowpack that is so critical to the state’s water supply. “We need to keep it up as best we can, even as we hope for as much rain and snow as we can safely handle,” she said. “We’re in the position of having to prepare for drought and flooding at the same time, but that’s what we’re faced with.” Regulators urged continued conservation even if the El Nino weather phenomenon brings winter storms, because the rain may not fall far enough to the north to replenish vital mountain snowpack that melts in the spring to feed the state’s streams and reservoirs.

The Australians learned that what got them through the drought was massive conservation but what sustains them going forward is that they implemented steps that make them resilient.” He is seeking federal resources to assist with the removal of dead trees. “California is facing the worst epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history,” Mr.

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