The pretty, cloudless blue skies over perfectly manicured lawns represent an ugly reality for California’s Las Virgenes Municipal Water District as it grapples with the historic megadrought ravaging the American West.
Damon Ayala patrols the streets of drought-stricken Los Angeles every day, inspecting the sidewalks. Each time he sees a puddle, he stops.
He is part of the city’s Department of Water and Power team, which looks into hundreds of community complaints filed by neighbors each week about water waste.
As the record-breaking drought continues to worsen in California, water districts across the state have issued a series of restrictions in an effort to curb water waste.
Joining the throngs of regions already impacted by these water conservation efforts are Kagel Canyon, Acton, Val Verde, the Antelope Valley and Malibu, which are all provided retail water service by Los Angeles County Waterworks Districts.
To some, it defies common sense. California is once again in the middle of a punishing drought with state leaders telling people to take shorter showers and do fewer loads of laundry to conserve water. Yet at the same time, many of the same elected officials, pledging to solve the housing crisis, are pushing for the construction of millions of new homes.
“It’s the first question I’d always get,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, who until last year ran the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the agency that delivers the water ultimately used by half the state’s population.
After two years of drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom remains reluctant to put limits on statewide water use. His administration, however, is looking to take a first step.
Next month, the State Water Resources Control Board is expected to adopt temporary prohibitions on outdoor water practices, including hosing down driveways, filling up decorative fountains and watering lawns within 48 hours of rain.
Hosing off the driveway. Watering lawns within 48 hours of a rainstorm. Washing a car without a shut-off nozzle.
Any of those wasteful practices could soon be illegal in drought-stricken California, with fines of up to $500 for violators.
Seven months after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency for most counties in California, his administration is moving forward with something water conservation experts said should have happened long ago — crafting statewide rules to ban the egregious wasting of water.
After declaring a State 2 water alert, the City of Sacramento is asking residents to reduce their water usage by 15%.
In a press release, city council called on residents, businesses, and city operations to voluntarily lower their water usage. For those looking to wash their car, Tuesday’s declaration means they’ll only be allowed to do so on the property’s watering days, which is currently restricted to two days a week. Fines for water waste will also be doubled.
Billions of people don’t have clean drinking water, or anywhere sanitary to wash their hands. Half of the world’s malnutrition cases are caused by a lack of water, sanitation and hygiene. Flooding caused nearly $77 billion in economic losses worldwide between 2009 and 2019.