Beverly Hills faces penalty for not saving enough water – Los Angeles Times
The city of Beverly Hills and three other water suppliers face financial penalties for falling short of state water conservation mandates, officials said Friday.
Statewide, Californians cut their urban water use in September by 26.1% compared with the same month in 2013, regulators said. The reduction was below the 27% decline recorded in August and the 31% savings in July.
In addition to Beverly Hills, the cities of Indio and Redlands, and the Coachella Valley Water District were issued a $61,000 penalty for failing to meet their conservation mandates, officials said.
Cris Carrigan, director of the Office of Enforcement of the State Water Resources Control Board, said he is “sure” there are water users in Beverly Hills that are “very conscientious and doing their part.”
“To those who aren’t, and are wasting water,” he added, “I’d say yes, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Beverly Hills officials could not immediately reached for comment.
Redlands spokesman Carl Baker said in an email that “we were notified late yesterday. Right now I have no comment until we have an opportunity to seek direction from the City Council on Tuesday.”
Also Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over the loss of millions of trees across California, the result of a bark beetle infestation made worse by the drought.
Brown asked the federal government to help “mobilize additional resources for the safe removal of dead and dying trees.”
The U.S. Forest Service recently estimated that more than 22 million trees have died in California, Brown said.
The statewide conservation effort kept California in compliance with Brown’s restrictions for the fourth consecutive month. Earlier this year, Brown ordered cities and towns across the state to slash their water consumption by 25% amid a four-year drought.
As the hot summer months give way to cooler temperatures and more rain, officials have cautioned that it may prove harder for Californians to save water.
Experts say outdoor watering decreases in the winter, so residents and businesses who want to keep conserving at high levels will need to look indoors.
“There is still ample opportunity for indoor conservation but it’s more of a challenge,” said Max Gomberg, the water board’s climate and conservation manager. “It is not as simple as turning off your irrigation.”
In order to attain the statewide 25% reduction in urban water use, the board assigned conservation “standards” to each of the state’s 411 urban suppliers earlier this year.
Suppliers with a history of high per-capita water use were ordered to cut as much as 36% off 2013 totals. Suppliers with a history of lower consumption were told to cut as little as 8% or, in rare cases, even 4%.
Despite the good overall results, some individual water districts have struggled to meet their targets. In August, for example, six suppliers missed their mark by more than 15 percentage points. An additional 54 suppliers were off by between five and 15 percentage points.
Regulators met over the summer with some lagging districts and later issued conservation orders to eight of them. The orders demand that the districts take specific steps to save more water.
About 100 suppliers have received so-called information orders requiring them to send more information about the conservation measures they have undertaken, Gomberg said.
Under the drought regulations, water districts that violate a conservation or information order can be fined up to $500 per day. The water board can also send violators a cease-and-desist order, which carries a stiffer penalty: up to $10,000 for each day of non-compliance.