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Water restrictions: Who’s going to enforce them?

Posted: July 16, 2014 8:12 p.m.
Updated: July 16, 2014 8:12 p.m.

While California’s top water agency determined Tuesday that water-wasters are going to face stiff fines, the enforcement of those new regulations falls to local agencies, officials said Wednesday.

Water-wasting fines are to enforced by local agencies, state water board spokesman George Kostyrko said Wednesday.

And if those agencies don’t cooperate, they, too, could face fines.

“We would likely be involved in cease-and-desist orders with agencies that don’t follow the emergency regulations,” Kostyrko said. “And (they) risk a $10,000-a-day fine under a cease-and-desist order.”

The state Water Resources Control Board approved strict emergency regulations Tuesday. They prohibit watering landscape to the point that runoff spills onto sidewalks or streets. Hosing down sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces would be banned, along with washing vehicles without a shut-off nozzle.

Violations would be infractions punishable by fines up to $500 a day.

“Any person with law enforcement authority, such as a police officer, deputy sheriff, or a water district ‘water cop,’ can issue citations to residents who are violating the regulations,” said Tim Moran, a water board spokesman. “They have the discretion of issuing a first-time warning or a monetary fine of up to $500.

“Most of the money collected in those fines will stay with the local agency.”

Steve Cole, chairman of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Committee and general manager of Newhall County Water District, said the committee is likely to meet soon to “discuss options.”

Those options, he said, involve “reviewing the emergency regulations in their entirety, including what type of enforcement options are feasible.

“The emergency regulations were not very heavy on the details,” Cole said. “All the parties — water agencies, city and county — will be meeting soon to discuss the regulations and how to move forward with their implementation locally.”

Dan Masnada, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, said the task is likely to fall to the valley’s water retailers: Valencia Water, Santa Clarita Water Division, Newhall County Water District and county Waterworks District 36.

“Despite our outreach to encourage conservation,” Masnada said, “we’re a bit above last year’s (conservation levels) because of the extremely dry and warm conditions year-to-date.” He noted January 2014 was the driest January on record.

“The bottom line is that conservation is happening but is being more than offset by the extremely dry conditions in combination with some growth and the economic recovery,” he said.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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