SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — California has approved fines for water wasting after a new report showed water customers in the state using more water, not less, amid calls for conservation.

The State Water Resources Control Board voted Tuesday to impose fines of up to $500 a day to businesses and individuals for wasting water on landscaping, washing cars without a shut-off nozzle or other outdoor uses.

Updated results of a water-use survey showed overall consumption in California increased one percent in 2014, despite pleas from Gov. Jerry Brown for residents and businesses to voluntarily cut back use by 20 percent.

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“The state cannot be in a situation where this goes two, three, four years and we’re dealing with massive numbers of cities running out of water,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus.

The sweeping list of mandates from the state includes: a ban on watering down sidewalks and driveways — except for sanitation purposes.  No more washing a vehicle or boat without a shut-off nozzle on the hose. Fountains must use recycled water. No watering so much as to cause runoff.

That last rule could be a big boost for landscapers.

“If the runoff prohibition is enforced, we expect it to result in a multitude of landscape retrofits in the coming months,” said Larry Rohlfes of the California Landscaping Contractors Association.

Fines of up to $500 dollars for individuals and $10,000 for water districts could be issued for non-compliance. It will be up to local governments and water districts to decide how to implement the mandates.

“Our intention is that it would be enforceable at the local level by any enforcement capability local agencies currently have,” said Marcus. “We are trying not to reinvent any wheel.”



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