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Sacramento Cracks Down on Excessive Water Usage

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By : Lauren Spencer    99 or more times read
An average of 50 to 90 inches of water is applied to L.A. lawns every year, but the average annual rainfall is only 15 inches. Faced with yet another dry summer, the various municipalities are beginning to impose water restrictions and rules on water usage.

Sacramento is the worst offender at 280 gallons per day; the highest per-person water usage in the U.S. An estimated 65 percent of that water is used for watering lawns. In an effort to set an example, this year, instead of the usual seasonal restrictions, the rules are permanent.

The changes include:

Lawn water banned from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (during the hottest times of the day when evaporation is at its peak).

When washing cars with a hose, it must be equipped with a shut off nozzle.

During standard time (November to March), watering is only permitted one day a week. Other times watering is allowed on alternate days (actual day is determined by your address), and no watering on Mondays.

Water waste is not permitted. Water cannot be allowed to run off the property into the gutters or streets during irrigation.

Washing driveways, sidewalks or parking lots is banned unless prior approval has been received.


New sod or landscaping may be watered daily for 21 consecutive days from planting.


Ignoring these laws come with harsh penalties that include:

First violation: written notification.

Second violation: $25 fine which will be waived upon completion of a water conservation class.

Third violation: $100 fine.

Fourth and subsequent violations: $500 fine.

All of the above amounts are doubled during a water shortage. In Malibu, Topanga and Marina areas, the county is threatening to raise water rates if water usage is not reduced by 15%.

Although there are only three employees assigned to investigate reports, all city employees are encouraged to uphold the rules by reporting incidents of excess usage.

What is the city doing to market this program? For now, they are spending $80,000 to communicate the new rules and educate the public on water conservation. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is offering a rebate up to $2,000 for those who replace their grass with a drought-friendly alternative, as outlined in the Residential Drought Resistant Landscape Incentive Program.

"It's important we set an example, as a region and state capital, on conservation efforts," said Mike Malone, field supervisor in the Utilities Department. "We don't know what the future is going to hold. So it's important we take steps to preserve this precious resource."

"Our goal is for the city to be known as a water conservation capital," said Marty Hanneman, assistant city manager and utilities director. "We know we've got a long way to go, but this is a big step forward."

How has the public reacted to these new restrictions?

Many view this as a money grab intended to balance the skyrocketing municipal and state budgets. For the numerous home owners who don't even water their lawns, how will they be rewarded? Others say that the wealthy home owners with massive lawns and multiple fountains, pools and hot tubs are the true culprits, and none of these penalties are likely to have any effect on their watering habits.
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