If you live in California, now may be the time to stop using drinking water in non-recirculating ornamental fountains. That's one of the practices—along with things like allowing runoff from your sprinklers, hosing down your driveway or sidewalk, or washing your car without a nozzle on the hose—that will be banned in the state come Aug. 1, and violators could be fined up to $500 per day. The State Water Resources Control Board yesterday gave local agencies the authority to impose such fines, and the directive to put such bans in place, as part of new emergency rules as the state deals with one of its worst droughts in decades.
While many cities in Southern California already have mandatory water restrictions, most California communities have only voluntary restrictions in place, and the state is not close to the 20% reduction in water use Gov. Jerry Brown called for in January, the Los Angeles Times reports. First-time offenders probably won't get hit with a $500 fine; authorities are expected to give warnings first, and then escalating fines if offenses are repeated, the AP reports. Which they may well be: One expert told the board that SoCal residents "don't get this drought"; May's urban water use was actually up 1% compared to the average of the three Mays prior. (Read more California stories.)