The California Water Authority prohibits irrigation of some green spaces, but does not apply to parks, athletic fields, or lawns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) – California water authorities on Tuesday issued a ban on watering certain green spaces as the state’s drought drags on.

The ban, issued by the State Water Resources Control Board, follows Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for Californians to use less water or face sweeping, mandatory water-use restrictions.

This includes watering non-functioning lawns on commercial and industrial sites, and violators can be fined $500 per day.

Beginning June 10, watering grass outside of businesses, industrial facilities, and institutions such as colleges, hospitals, and government agencies, and spaces managed by homeowners’ associations will no longer be permitted.

Grass that cannot be watered includes anything that is used for decoration and not for regular activities or events.

The ban does not apply to parks, athletic fields, lawns, or watering trees. It would apply to lawns managed by homeowners associations, but not individual residents.

Beyond those restrictions, about 400 local water districts that serve California cities and towns need to step up their conservation efforts, the board voted.

Each district follows conservation requirements based on local plans made after the last drought. Many are further restricting the frequency of lawn watering, aiming to reinforce the public message about the value of conservation.

“It’s bad,” said Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District. “It’s unprecedented. We are in a place where we are not producing enough with the water we are using, we will not have enough water for the end of the year.”

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s water conservation team spent time checking for water waste in residential areas.

They said the goal is not to punish people but to educate them.

“They’re not going to get a mention, and even if they did get a mention, because we’re more concerned with behavior change and education, it would be a non-monetary mention at first,” said LADWP’s Damon Ayala, who said he would be involved with the issue of information letters for those who may not be aware of the regulation and the new restriction changes.

“We believe in people where we don’t want to have a day where we turn on the faucet and no water comes out,” Hagekhalil said.

Meanwhile, officials at numerous water agencies have urged the board not to force them all into further restrictions and instead give them more discretion based on their local supply conditions.

Stacy Taylor, water policy manager for Orange County’s Mesa Water District, said many local districts have already made major water savings and increased supplies through investments in water storage, recycling and other measures.

“We don’t have a shortage because we did what the state asked for,” she said.

The board approved a spin-off for a small number of water districts, including Santa Cruz, a coastal city of about 65,000 where water use is already very low at about 45 gallons per person per day, said Rosemary Menard, the district’s water director. A 10 minute shower uses about 20 gallons.

Santa Cruz isn’t as hot or dry as many parts of inland California, and the city doesn’t get water from state sources. The next step in the district’s local plan is water rationing, which Menard says isn’t necessary.

Under the carveout, districts that do not rely on state or federal utilities or the Colorado River, have low average per capita water use, and do not rely heavily on depleted groundwater supplies will face different rules. Only about 10 districts are expected to be able to meet those criteria, said Max Gomberg, water conservation and climate protection manager.

Instead of moving to the next step in their local plans, they need to limit outdoor watering with potable water to two days a week and only at certain times. They must initiate public awareness campaigns about conservation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved. The California Water Authority prohibits irrigation of some green spaces, but does not apply to parks, athletic fields, or lawns

Laura Coffey

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