Did you know about these lesser-known California drought regulations?* | Opinion
July 23, 2015
State politicians and regulators are working tirelessly to address the drought. You have probably heard about water rationing, mandatory cutbacks in water usage with hefty fines. Restaurants are no longer permitted to offer water without the patron requesting it.
There are many lesser-known regulations and activities on the books with more pending as the drought progresses. Here are a few you may not have heard about:
New home construction must include instant-hot water for showers. This will prevent wasting water waiting for it to get warm. Swimming pool covers are mandatory over much of the state. Enforcement will be by aircraft photography and fines will be assessed on water bills. Fines are dependent on zip code, with much larger fines in fancy neighborhoods and those whose demographic voted the wrong way in the last election.
All new swimming pool construction is required to be double-walled with a "water containment" certification that has a hefty fee. The state is requiring localities to assess an annual swimming pool "water usage fee" on property tax bills. The state claims no voter approval is required after recent changes in the tax laws.
If you haven't heard of the California Water Directorate, you soon will. The CWD reports directly to Governor Brown and oversees the California Water Resources Board, TRPA, the Coastal Commission, the C-EPA and a variety of other environmental activities that were previously disparate.
With a $250 million budget, the CWD has two full-time lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and representatives in Denver, Phoenix and Carson City. Although the drought is assumed to be temporary, the CWD is building a new six-story headquarters on P Street in Sacramento. It is rumored former governor Gray Davis will head the CWD.
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Kern County has warned citizens of rotating water "blackouts" later in the summer. San Francisco has a similar program. Blackouts in San Francisco will not be applied to neighborhoods with more than 12.5 percent residents receiving public assistance, so it is unlikely there will be any blackouts there at all.
After the California Growers Association noted that efficient commercial agriculture uses up to 10 times less water per pound of produce, several counties banned private vegetable gardens. Government agencies around the state have received grants from the CWD to purchase drones to enforce the garden ban.
In a measure inspired by bag-bans, restaurants will be required to charge $1 for each glass of tap water served. The California Restaurant Association has enthusiastically endorsed the measure. Bottled water, if imported from outside California, is exempt.
Drinking fountains are banned throughout California. Anyone providing free drinking water may be subject to fines up to $250 for a first offense. This restriction does not apply to schools, hospitals or governments offices. Sporting events such as marathons are not specifically exempted, so it is unclear how these will be treated.
Aircraft flying into California airports from cities designated "non-drought" are required to announce lavatory availability one hour before landing to give passengers a chance to use the airplane lavatory, saving flush-water at their destination airports. Airports are posting signs in airport lavatories recommending use of the airplane lavatory instead of the one in the drought-stricken airport.
San Bernadino, Riverside and Imperial county agriculture inspection stations are now inspecting outgoing traffic and will be confiscating water jugs over 1 gallon exiting the state. The "water smuggling" regulation does not apply to commercial trucks and unionized labor.
Look for a new ad campaign to save water in the home, specifically in the laundry and bathroom. The new slogans are "Wear it Twice" and "The Yellow should
Mellow" and will be taught in the new mandatory "drought awareness" segment of California history in fourth grade. Messages will soon be on freeway notice boards.
Ancient bans on public expectoration are being enforced again in many cities. It is rumored that CWD officials are looking for a high-profile nationally-broadcast baseball game to make their point.
Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles have expectoration bans, but Anaheim rescinded theirs in the 1970s, so it is baseball-as-usual at the big A.
Mike Post has been commissioned to write a song, tentatively titled "Save the Water, Save the Planet" to be taught to primary-school children when they begin school in September.
Assembly bill AB-2015.22011 recommends responding to a sneeze with "Save water" instead of "Gesundheit." Of course, "Bless you" has been banned in California public buildings since 1997.
*Relax. I made all this up. None of this is real. Yet.
Steve Trimberger is a computer scientist, electrical engineer and philanthropist who currently resides in Incline Village and is a former California resident.