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Drought Parched California Tightens Restrictions on Wasting Water

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Water regulators in California have imposed stringent water conservation measures to limit outdoor water use, including fines of up to $500 a day for using a hose without a shut-off nozzle.

The new restrictions also ban watering gardens enough to cause visible run-off onto roads or walkways, using water on driveways or asphalt, and in non-recirculating fountains.

Districts that don’t comply could face fines of up to $10,000 a day.

The harsh action comes in the wake of s stunning report that despite Gov. Gerry Brown’s emergency drought declaration in January, and his call for a 20 per cent cut in water use, Californians used one per cent more water in May compared to the average in the same month in the previous three years.

“An emergency requires action, and this is a much-needed response to California’s drought emergency,” said Ed Osann, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defence Council.

The new restrictions take effect August 1.

Many cities and counties have already imposed voluntary restrictions, but the new rules will allow municipalities to impose mandatory cutbacks, and issue fines to those who do not comply.

California is in the third year of a catastrophic drought that has diminished the Sierra Nevada snow pack, which normally feeds the state’s rivers and streams with cool water.

Over-all the drought is expected to cause $2.2 billion in total economic losses in California this year. The estimated crop revenue loss amounts to $810 million, mostly because of water shortages that have forced many farmers to let their fields lie fallow.

Some 60 per cent of fallowed cropland, where farmers once irrigated grazing fields or grew annual crops such as corn and beans, are in the San Joaquin Valley, where 70 per cent of the state’s agricultural revenue loss is concentrated.

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