California Rolls Out Statewide Restrictions On Water Use

California is set to impose mandatory water restrictions Tuesday. Urban water users will be prohibited from spraying down pavement, watering landscaping in a way that causes runoff and running fountains that do not re-circulate their water.

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California is still suffering through a multi-year drought. And voluntary conservation methods apparently aren't doing enough, so now the state is considering mandatory restrictions. NPR's Sam Sanders has more.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: California is dry.

(SOUNDBITE OF VARIOUS NEWS CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: California's drought situation has gone from bad to worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Save water or else.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: California is dry as a bone.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: For the first time in 15 years, the entire state is in a drought.

SANDERS: Through media and public pleas, officials have tried to get people to conserve. Some agricultural water allotments have already been cut, and some local water districts have put restrictions in place. For individuals, California governor Jerry Brown has only asked people to voluntarily cut water use, but that's not working. Over the last year, water use in the state has actually gone up.

So today California's State Water Resources Board moves to mandatory restrictions all across the state. These things would be prohibited - any outdoor watering that causes runoff, using a hose to wash your car unless that hose has a shutoff nozzle, applying water to hard surfaces like a sidewalk or driveway, and using potable water in fountains and other decorative features. Violating these new rules could result in a $500 fine per day.

SAMUEL SANDOVAL SOLIS: It will make a difference, in terms of education on bringing the drought in our day-to-day life.

SANDERS: Dr. Samuel Sandoval Solis of the University of California Davis says these new statewide restrictions might not drastically affect how much water California uses, but they will keep the state aware, which is good. Sandoval Solis also says, the restrictions are especially useful for the summer, when people are watering the yard's more or over-irrigating.

SOLIS: The board realized that there is plenty of over-irrigation, though. I mean, it's not hard to see it in many of our cities - that there are people who are over-irrigating.

SANDERS: A study from the University of California Davis estimates the drought will cost the state over $2 billion and more than 17,000 jobs. Sam Sanders, NPR News.

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