Monterey County

Monterey Peninsula prepared for stiff water waste fines

California issues water waste fines

MONTEREY, Calif. - Steep fines are coming as a result of California's drought. 

The state is mandating some emergency rules with a big price tag for wasting water, making it a crime to waste water.

Local agencies could ask courts to fine water users up to $500 a day for failure to implement conservation requirements.

If you're caught, you'll likely get a warning first, but if you ignore the warning, you could be fined $500 per day by your local water agency.

The State Water Board could initiate enforcement actions against water agencies that don't comply with the new regulations. 

Failure to comply with a State Water Board enforcement order by water agencies is subject to up to a $10,000 a day penalty.

But the question is, how will that affect the Central Coast? 

On Tuesday night, News Channel 5 found out how the Monterey Peninsula is already following similar guidelines set by the state.

"Everybody's gotta save water a little bit, but you've gotta be realistic too, gotta live," said Danny Weger of Grass Valley.

Weger said water waste is a little more prevalent.  But because the State Water Resources Control Board is now asking water agencies to write $500 tickets, making it a crime to waste water, he doesn't want to be the bad guy and report his neighbor. 

"To put fines on stuff like that is a little ridiculous. People are having a hard time as it is, a lot of people with their wages and everything else, so to turn around and fine them because they wash their car?" Weger said. 

Local agencies like the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District already have the power to issue tickets.  But the agency said now the state is pushing for harsher penalties. 

"The first ticket will be a fix-it ticket, the first mailer will be a fix-it style mailer.  But if there's chronic abuse, or if there's recurring abuse, we do have and have always had fines and penalties that can be incurred," said Monterey Peninsula Water Management District general manager Dave Stoldt.

The state said there's four main ways you can be fined:  One, you can't wash your sidewalks or driveways, two, you can't allow water to run off into streets or gutters, three, decorative fountains aren't allowed unless the water is recycled and four.

Monterey Peninsula said one major issue in meeting the state's demands, is a lack of people to patrol the streets looking for waste.  In January, Gov. Jerry Brown demanded Californian's conserve by 20 percent.  Monterey Peninsula said its customers already do a good job of conserving so they don't expect these fines to be a big problem.

"We lead the state--probably just under 50 gallons per person per day. There are cities in the Central Valley that are three times that," Stoldt said.

The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District said it usually hears about water waste, when it's reported by residents.  But the agency is looking at setting up a website and a special phone number to report waste.

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