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Climate and Environment

First Statewide Ban On Water Use — In Current Drought — Targets Decorative Lawns At Businesses

A green lawn in open space is surrounded by tract homes and hills.
An aerial view of homes and a park in Agoura Hills. The new restrictions target businesses.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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The State Water Resources Control Board has voted to ban watering of decorative lawns at commercial, industrial and institutional sites.

It's the first statewide water-use restriction in response to the ongoing severe drought.

The move is expected to save as much water as 780,000 homes might use in a year.

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Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources secretary, said water agency leaders pushed for local control on restrictions, but the results, so far, have been disappointing.

"We're going to spend the next 60 days working closely with them to help them activate these emergency drought plans that they've created to improve water conservation," Crowfoot said in an appearance on our newsroom's public affairs show AirTalk, which airs on the radio at 89.3 FM. "And then really come summertime, we're going to reassess."

According to a release from the state, these "Level 2 water shortage contingency plans are meant to address up to a 20% shortage of water supplies."

In addition to implementing Level 2 actions, the regulation requires urban water suppliers to fast-track supply and demand assessments to plan for potential extended dry conditions.

Level 2 actions often include things such as:

Limiting outdoor irrigation to certain days or hours

Increasing patrolling to identify water waste

Enforcing water-use prohibitions

Increasing communication about the importance of water conservation

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is limiting outdoor watering to one day a week — or requiring similar reductions — starting June 1st.

The L.A. City Council is voting Wednesday on whether to restrict outdoor watering to twice a week.

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