Sprinkling scofflaws in the drought-stricken state of California are about to get an expensive wake up call. As water consumption rates climb despite Governor Brown's call for a voluntary 20 percent per household reduction, the State Water Board has voted to impose fines up to $500 for a variety of wasteful outdoor watering practices. Here's how to save water where you can.

According to a report published last Tuesday:

With this regulation, all Californians will be expected to stop: washing down driveways and sidewalks; watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff; using a hose to wash a motor vehicle, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle, and using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated. The regulation makes an exception for health and safety circumstances.

Larger water suppliers will be required to activate their Water Shortage Contingency Plan to a level where outdoor irrigation restrictions are mandatory. In communities where no water shortage contingency plan exists, the regulation requires that water suppliers either limit outdoor irrigation to twice a week or implement other comparable conservation actions. Finally, large water suppliers must report water use on a monthly basis to track progress.

Local agencies could ask courts to fine water users up to $500 a day for failure to implement conservation requirements in addition to their existing authorities and processes. The State Water Board could initiate enforcement actions against water agencies that don't comply with the new regulations. Failure to comply with a State Water Board enforcement order by water agencies is subject to up to a $10,000 a day penalty.

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Now granted, these fines aren't going to start at $500, there will be a number of warnings and smaller citations before you hit that fine level. Still, it's easy enough to avoid having to pay up altogether by simply following the state restrictions. And if you want to really do your part, take a look at the simple ways you can conserve in and around your house below. [Press Enterprise]

Image: pbk-pg

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