California state water regulators may take temporary penalties to wasting water during droughts and make them permanent, The Mercury News reported.
Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, issued emergency rules in 2014 aimed at conserving water during drought. The rules timed out on Nov. 25, 2017.
California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) proposed cementing the rules in place. Some city and water agency representatives supported the idea, but the measure was delayed after board members disagreed over the threat the draft language posed to water rights. A vote is scheduled for next month, according to The Mercury News.
The proposal would cement into law restrictions on using hoses to wash cars, watering lawns and providing new bedding or towels in a hotel without telling customers they may reuse what they have. Each infraction carries a fine of up to $500.
Brown’s original rules were put in place three years into the worst drought California had suffered in decades. The governor originally tried pressing Californians to cut their water usage by 20 percent, but the awareness campaign did not work and only achieved a five percent reduction, at best, USA Today reported at the time.
After the rules timed out, California was hit by an unusually dry winter, which motivated the control board to take up the proposal to make the drought rules permanent.
California cities and agriculturists generally supported the rules but the mechanism for putting them in place, a provision in California’s constitution that bars “waste or unreasonable use” of water, could easily be abused, critics say according to The Mercury News.
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