Lawn sprinkler

Mandatory water-use cutbacks could limit the amount of outdoor watering Monterey County residents do this summer.

The State Water Resources Control Board is not freaking kidding when it tells Californians to cut back their water use.

Late last night, the water board reviewed data showing residents are not conserving water, despite repeated calls to cut back in the worst drought California has seen in decades.

So they made water waste a crime, subject to a $500 fine.

According to The Sacramento Bee, the following water uses are now banned statewide:

• Direct application of water to wash sidewalks and driveways.

• Landscape irrigation that causes runoff to streets and gutters.

• Washing a motor vehicle using a hose without a shut-off nozzle.

• Using drinkable water in a decorative fountain unless it recirculates the water.

Both Gov. Jerry Brown and the Monterey County Board of Supervisors have called for residents to reduce their water use by 20 percent. Monterey County is in the most severe drought category, "exceptional drought." 

Santa Cruz County instituted mandatory rationing in May, but Monterey County hasn't followed suit yet.

Meanwhile, the agricultural figures associated with the drought are not promising.

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A report from UC Davis' Center for Watershed Sciences, released July 15, estimates the record costs of the 2014 drought, including:

  • $2.2 billion in total statewide costs,
  • Loss of 17,100 farm jobs,
  • More groundwater pumping to make up for a 6.6 million acre-foot reduction in river water supplies, and
  • Removal of at least 5 percent of irrigated farmland from production in Central and Southern California, including the Central Coast.

"The 2014 drought is responsible for the greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture — about one third less than normal," reads the summary on the report's website.

"The drought is likely to continue through 2015, regardless of El Niño conditions."

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