California officials approved a package of far-reaching water restrictions Tuesday, limiting homes and businesses in much of the Bay Area and elsewhere to just two days of outdoor watering per week while cracking down on the way restaurants and hotels use water.
The rules mark unprecedented territory for the state, which has historically let local water agencies, with their unique supplies and demands, manage how customers use water. But with California poised for a fourth year of drought and conservation lagging, officials opted for statewide action.
The regulations, carrying fines up to $500, add to restrictions put in place last year that rein in outdoor water use — for example, barring people from hosing down driveways. The new terms tread deeper into homes, businesses and the lives of most Californians, and are indicative of the state’s worsening water woes.
“We are not seeing the stepping up and the ringing of alarm bells that the situation warrants,” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, which voted unanimously for Tuesday’s conservation mandates.
The regulations require local water agencies that don’t already limit outdoor watering to certain days of the week to adopt a two-day-a-week policy. Among the Bay Area agencies that would have to impose the two-day limit are the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, serving the city’s more than 800,000 residents, as well as the Marin Municipal Water District and Contra Costa Water District. Agencies outside San Francisco that buy water from the SFPUC — including on the Peninsula and in parts of the East Bay — are affected only if they do not already impose watering limits. (Read more from “California Drought: State OKs Sweeping Restrictions on Water Use” HERE)