California Fines Water Suppliers for Failure to Cut Back | Business News

California Fines Water Suppliers for Failure to Cut Back

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

COACHELLA, Calif. SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — State officials for the first time are fining California water suppliers for failing to meet a mandated 25 percent reduction in water use in the battle against a widespread drought.

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. 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. Alhough the affluent city isn’t alone in using too much water, it is the only violator not located in a desert. “You should be ashamed of yourselves,” Chris Carrigan, director of the California State Water Resources Board, said of Beverly Hills locals wasting water in a press conference call. While announcing that the state overall met its monthly conservation goals in September, officials said Beverly Hills, Indio, Redlands and the Coachella Valley Water District missed their mandates by wide margins.

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. California Water Board enforcement office director Cris Carrigan said across the state, residents and water suppliers were making sacrifices to preserve water.

Redlands spokesman Carl Baker said the city learned of the fine late Thursday and said officials will seek direction on how to respond from the City Council on Tuesday. 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.

Collectively, they’ve “wasted” about 2.3 billion gallons of water since June by not hitting their conservation numbers, he added, including about 1.4 billion gallons at Coachella Valley. Indio said it has been working hard to meet state water conservation goals, including adopting a drought penalty surcharge and offering rebates for water customers who get rid of their grass. 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.

If their conservation efforts don’t improve in the coming months, Carrigan said, the state could issue cease-and-desist orders and ramp up the penalties to $10,000 a day if those orders are violated. 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. All of them have missed their state-mandated conservation targets — which range up to 36 percent compared with 2013 — by more than 8 percentage points since June 1. 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. The city also plans to hire additional staff to investigate violations of conservation rules and put individual customers on personalized conservation programs if necessary.

Some of the city’s homes have been targeted by so-called “drought shamers” who post videos online of water being wasted and allowed to run into the street. The fines were announced amid otherwise positive news: California’s urban water customers collectively reduced their water use by 26 percent in September, continuing to surpass the statewide mandate, though at lower levels than were seen during summer, the water board reported. Redlands actually has a link on its website that people can use to report water wasters, and city officials say they have taken numerous efforts to cut usage, including limiting watering days and installing drought-resistant landscaping in public places.

Beverly Hills, the only one of the districts in an urban, coastal area, has fallen nearly 12 percentage points short of its 32 percent conservation standard. 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.

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. Indio, a desert resort town 20 miles east of Palm Springs and with a population of about 70,000, is located in the typically hot, dry Coachella Valley section of Southern California. Powell said the district will “challenge” the state water board on several of its concerns although he wouldn’t say whether the agency would appeal the fine.

Yeah, definitely, but I think we’re in the ballpark.” The four agencies fined by the state Friday have been assigned relatively high conservation mandates – and haven’t come close to meeting them since June. 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. The state hadn’t contacted the city about its record since June, when Redlands officials were asked to fill out a questionnaire about the city’s conservation efforts, he said.

The state has ordered most Sacramento-area water agencies to cut water use between 28 percent and 36 percent, and most communities hit those targets, with room to spare, during the summer. Statewide, nearly one-third of the largest water agencies are not meeting cumulative water conservation targets, including four in the Sacramento region. It will be tough for them to make up ground during the winter. “We expressed this concern to the state board early on: As you move into September, October and November, it is going to be difficult meeting the conservation targets,” said Marcus Yasutake, Folsom’s environmental and water resources director. “You don’t have the same opportunity for the outdoor savings.” Folsom recently sent a mailer to its customers telling them about missing September targets and offering suggestions on how they can do more to conserve, Yasutake said.

He said warm weather and resulting outdoor irrigation in Folsom was largely to blame for the lackluster September results. “I don’t attribute this to water waste by our customers by any means,” he said. Peter Brostrom, program manager for water use efficiency at the Department of Water Resources, said there are several steps Californians can take to cut their indoor water use this fall and winter. “If you look at kind of what are the big uses of water in the house, toilets are about 20 percent statewide,” Brostrom said. “Clothes washers are about 20 percent, and showers are about 20 percent. He also suggested replacing old clothes washers, flushing only when there is solid waste and taking shorter “Navy showers,” which involve turning the water off while applying soap and shampoo. “That alone can save a significant amount of water,” he said. “But probably the cheapest thing to do is to change out the aerators, especially in bathroom faucets.

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