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Water Fines Get Real: One Family May Have To Cut 70 Percent

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Don't do this. (Photo by Ekaterina_Molchanova via Shutterstock)
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Starting today, water restrictions are in effect for the state of California. One family says that an L.A. County proposal would require them to cut back their water usage by 70 percent or face big fines. Last month, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order for people in California to cut back water usage by between eight and 36 percent, depending on per capita use. Those restrictions go into effect today, CBS LA reports. Cities with the highest water usage—like Arcadia, Monterey Park and Beverly Hills—must reduce water usage by 36 percent. Cities with less usage have lower restrictions. For instance, Los Angeles is at 16 percent, Santa Monica is at 20 percent and Pasadena is at 28 percent. A complete list of cities can be found here.

L.A. County supervisors will vote on Tuesday on a plan that would figure out an acceptable amount of water for consumers to use each month by subtracting that percentage from the area's average water usage in 2013, the L.A. Times reports. Users who go over will have to pay double or triple the usual rate.

Some residents find this method unfair because it doesn't take into account how many people live in a particular house, or how large the property is. Andrew Chadd lives in a 7-person household in Littlerock, an unincorporated community in Antelope Valley. This area has to reduce water usage by 32 percent, but because Chadd's household contains so many people, he said his family will have to cut back by 70 percent to avoid big bills.

Gary Hildebrand, deputy director of L.A. County's public works department, said households like Chadd's could appeal. There will also be incentives for residents who do things like buy water-saving appliances or to tear out their lawns.

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Quartz Hill Water District, which also serves Antelope Valley, is taking a different approach. They are requiring users to cut their consumption 36 percent based on their own individual past usage—not a flat rate based on the average for the area. Residents who have already using less water will not face fines.

Current LADWP consumers are not allowed to wash concrete, fill fountains, water lawns while it's raining or allow water run-off, among other restrictions. You can find some tips for reducing water consumption here.

According to the L.A. Department of Water, some neighborhoods have more water waste complaints than others. These include Hancock Park, Miracle Mile, Beverly Grove and Westwood Village, KPCC reports. These neighborhood have racked up 1,700 complaints between January and May. Most of these were for water run-off.