Severe Drought, California Imposes Water Waste Fines

AmericaCalifornia’s Santa Clara County introduced a new rule that fines people up to $10,000 for wasting water irrigating lawns as the drought worsens.

The ordinance, passed by the Santa Clara County, California Water Department on May 24, imposes fines ranging from $100 to $10,000 for wasting water to irrigate lawns solely for decorative purposes.

This sanction was imposed by Santa Clara County officials after a period of campaigning to convince people not to use water for “unnecessary” purposes like watering lawns as the area is hit by a severe drought.

California state officials also applied new anti-drought regulations, banning the irrigation of lawns at corporate headquarters, industrial and commercial centers, etc. The ban does not apply to lawns in residential courtyards or places where people frequently gather.

Sprinklers water the lawn on July 8, 2021 in Sacramento, California.  Photo: AP

Sprinklers water the lawn on July 8, 2021 in Sacramento, California. Picture: AP

John Geise and his wife, who live in Willow Glen near San Jose, decided to renovate the garden with a drip irrigation system instead of sprinklers as before to better handle the drought.

“Everything is now based on drip irrigation,” says Geise. “We shrunk the lawn by more than half. Also, we replaced the bare grass with ornamental stones and drought-resistant plants.”

Geise believes shrinking the lawn will help him meet his goal of saving 15% on water and reducing water bills.

Santa Clara officials began last year urging more than two million residents to conserve water for outdoor irrigation.

“Now we’re imposing penalties. We need to do whatever it takes to save water and we want people to understand that we take water conservation very seriously,” said Kirsten Struve, Assistant to the Agency for Saatgut Water Management.

The state of California just experienced its driest first quarter on record, when statewide rainfall averaged just 15%. “The first three months of this year were the driest we’ve seen, the situation is getting worse, and yet we haven’t seen any water-saving measures,” Struve said.

With the new Anti-Wastewater Ordinance, a warning will be sent the first time, a fine card on the doorknob the second time, and after 30 days, if the situation doesn’t improve, a fine according to the Gradually Increasing Levels regulations.

Hong Hanh (Corresponding CBS)