Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) issued an Executive Order on April 1 mandating a 25 percent reduction in urban water use across California. The announcement follows the release of recent data showing that Californians reduced their water consumption by a mere 2.8 percent in February, the lowest reduction in water usage since the State Water Board began tracking the data in July 2014.
In January, Californians reduced their water usage by 8 percent, according to a survey of more than 400 urban water retailers. The governor’s latest attempt to crack down on those violating California’s water use restrictions includes a fine of up to $500 for each day the violation occurs.
“In this extremely serious situation, the Governor is calling for immediate reductions. Californians need to step up now — especially those who have not been doing their share,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus.
“We are in a drought like we’ve not seen before, and we all need to step up like never before”
“[T]hose who have not been doing their share,” include the wealthy residents of Beverly Hills, whose elite circle considers anything other than a lush green lawn bordered with blossoming foliage a travesty.
A Sunday stroll up Maple Drive in Beverly Hills would have you thinking about anything except the fact that the state is experiencing one of the worst droughts in history as it enters a fourth consecutive dry year.
“Beverly Hills and other affluent cities use far more water per capita than less-wealthy communities, prompting some to cast them as villains in California’s water conservation effort,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
Previously, Beverly Hills had no water restrictions, and for the first time is preparing to meet mandatory restrictions, including those recently set by Gov. Brown, according to the report.
Data show that residents living in more affluent areas are using quite a bit more water than those who are less fortunate. For example, residents living in communities such as La Canada Flintridge, Newport Beach, Malibu and Palos Verdes all used more than 150 gallons of water per capita per day in January.
In comparison, those residing in Santa Ana used just 38 gallons, while communities in Southeast L.A. County used less than 45 gallons. Residents of Los Angeles consumed an average of 70 gallons per capita.
After examining a decade of Department of Water and Power data, a study by UCLA found that wealthier neighborhoods, on average, use three times more water than less affluent ones. However, Gov. Brown’s recent Executive Order supposedly aims to curb water usage in ALL of California.
“Some people — believe it or not — don’t know we are in a drought,” said George Murdoch, general manager of utilities in Newport Beach, which is starting to fine repeat offenders.
“The problem lies, in part, in the social isolation of the rich, the moral isolation of the rich”
Stephanie Pincetl, who assisted with the UCLA’s water-use study, says those residing in privileged communities are “lacking a sense that we are all in this together.”
As they enter the second stage of its emergency water conservation plan, residents of Beverly Hills are being asked to limit their use of fountains that don’t use recycled water, pavement washing and lawn watering. However, in this stage, the restrictions are voluntary.
Residents in other parts of California seem to be much more vigilant when it comes to water conservation. One method that’s gaining popularity is the use of gray water. Gray water is soapy water leftover from hand washing or doing laundry that can then be used to flush the toilet. Some people suggest also using this water to irrigate plants, but that can come with the risk of contaminating the environment with soaps or other flushed chemicals.
Chris Brown of Sacramento used his own money to install a landscape system that uses gray water. “Every drop of water flows down to this pipe, runs underground now, down to the front yard, and then it’s spread,” he said.
“When we get water, it’s going to come in big surges and we need to be capturing it in landscapes and learning to live with that because that’s going to be our future.”
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