Possible Hefty Fines Await Water Wasters

Photo by Charly SHELTON Wasting water could cost you this summer, with fines of up to $500 a day. These emergency regulations are in response to the severe drought Southern California is facing right now.
Photo by Charly SHELTON
Wasting water could cost you this summer, with fines of up to $500 a day. These emergency regulations are in response to the severe drought Southern California is facing right now.


On Tuesday the State Water Resources Control Board approved an emergency regulation intended to reduce outdoor urban water waste through fines of up to $500 a day.

Crescenta Valley Water District and Glendale Water and Power are reviewing their individual company policies to see if their regulations are compatible with the new requirements.

One of the reasons for the vote came from a survey of the state’s conservation efforts. What the study found was that Californians used more water in May 2014 (after the official drought was declared) than in 2013.

And that trend holds true for CV residents.

“We were slightly higher in May 2014 than 2013,” said Christy Scott, CVWD spokeswoman.

But, Scott explained, there are many variables that go into that statistic including how hot this May was as opposed to last year. Overall, CVWD customers are doing pretty well with their conservation efforts.

“In general, [CVWD] is on target with 20 by 2020. We have met our goal in that area,” she said. The goal is to reduce water consumption by 20% by the year 2020.

GWP is also doing a good job with conservation, almost meeting that 20 by 2020 goal.

Officials are comparing the water usage of 2006 and are almost at that level of conservation.

“We asked for 10% [conservation] and got 18%,” said Ramon Abueg, chief assistant general manager for GWP.

Both agencies have voluntary conservation regulations in place.

At present CVWD is at water conservation Yellow Alert, which is defined as an Extraordinary Conservation Alert. Under the Yellow Alert, watering lawns is permitted before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday only.

Continuing restrictions include no hardscape hosing (washing surfaces like driveways with a hose) and washing a vehicle can only be done by using a hand-held bucket and quick rinses using a hose with a positive shut-off nozzle.

GWP has similar restrictions in place; however, those may change from voluntary to mandatory after the new regulations were announced on Tuesday.

At present, both CVWD and GWP have fines in place but they first issue warnings before imposing fines.

Scott said that customers usually take care of their water issues after the warning and it is rare that fines are levied.

Although the complete regulations from the State Water Board have not been shared with the water agencies and calls to the board from CVW received no response, it is difficult for CVWD or GWP to know for certain what the exact requirements will include. It is thought a customer who is not complying with the agency’s conservation regulations would receive three fines at three levels beginning at $100 and rising to $500 per day.

CVWD and GWP are reviewing their policies to make certain they are compliant with the regulations. This is important because part of Tuesday’s decision by the State Water Board was to charge the water agencies up to $10,000 a day for failure to comply with its enforcement order.

“We believe, based on the mandate and restrictions, that we are already [compliant],” Abueg said.

GWP will have reviewed their policy and submitted any changes to the Glendale City Council before Aug. 1.

Scott also felt that CVWD is compliant with the regulations although, like GWP, the restrictions may move from voluntary to mandatory.

“We will be going through, analyzing our policy to adapt to our newly adopted state [regulations],” Scott said.

That analysis will then go before the CVWD board on Aug. 12. No new fines will be implemented prior to that date.

Neither CVWD nor GWP have water “cops” out looking for violators but they do depend on their employees in the field to notify them of an issue as well as residents who notice a problem.

“We are implementing our hotline so [residents] can notify us if they see [anything] like a broken [sprinkler] head,” Abueg said.

For information on water emergency levels, restrictions and water conservations tips for CVWD visit www.cvwd.com or call (818) 248-3925.

For GWP visit www. glendaleca.gov/government/departments/glendale-water-and-power or call (818) 548-3300.