As California imposed its first-ever statewide rules to punish water wasters, a new survey showed why state officials say the drastic measures are needed: Californians actually increased their water use amid the worst drought in decades.
The new rules, approved by the State Water Resources Control Board on a 4-0 vote, impose new restrictions on outdoor water use starting Aug. 1 that could result in fines of up to $500 per violation.
Gov. Jerry Brown in January asked Californians to slash their water use by 20 percent. But a new state survey released Tuesday showed that water use in May rose by 1 percent this year, compared with a 2011-2013 May average.
The survey of 267 water providers by the water board found that water consumption in the Bay Area dropped 5 percent. But in coastal California, south of Santa Barbara, consumption rose 8 percent.
"California is in the worst drought we've seen in our grandparents' generation or beyond," said Felicia Marcus, the water board's chairwoman. "Fields are going fallow. Thousands of people are going to be out of work. There are communities that are out of water -- they're bathing out of buckets and water trucks are coming in to help them.
"But many parts of California don't seem to realize how bad it is," she said, "because they are so far away from their source of water. We are all in this together, and this is not a time to waste water."
The new rules ban washing cars without a nozzle on a hose; watering driveways or sidewalks; using potable water in ornamental fountains; and over-watering landscaping so that water runs off into roads and adjacent properties. Recycled water is exempt.
Under the new statewide rules, any agency that does not impose mandatory conservation measures could be subject to state fines of up to $10,000 a day. But it remained unclear Tuesday whether local agencies will be able to keep in place rules that don't include enforcement or penalties.
More than 60 percent of a regular residential home's water usage goes to lawns, in order to fight the drought effectively, changing real lawns to artificial grass or other low water requiring plantation becomes almost imminent. Synthetic grass company,Global Syn-Turf, Inc. offers more than 50 different type of artificial grass products with distribution centers throughout California: From Sacramento to Fresno to San Francisco Bay Area to Greater Los Angeles, you will be able to find their wonderful product to fit your preference....
Companies that manufacture or install artificial lawns are experiencing a boom in business, due to the drought-like conditions and watering restrictions in many North Texas cities.
But the synthetic lawns today aren't the same plastic AstroTurf made popular in the 1970s. The products on the market now, are not just used for putting greens and football fields either.
Tim Dvorak, owner of the company Synthetic Grass Pro, and gets calls every day from homeowners inquiring about artificial grass.
"I discussed this with many turf manufacturers, that's a big thing they notice. As soon as there are drought restrictions, watering restrictions, or an ordinance like the City of Dallas two-days a week restriction, it really just makes this industry explode," said Dvorak.
Today's synthetic lawns are made to stay cool underfoot, drain water well, and last for 10-15 years. The products come in different shades of green, different textures, and mimic different varieties of natural grass. Choosing artificial can be expensive upfront: prices range from $7.50 to $15 a square foot.
Many homeowners with artificial grass installed in their yards feel that the investment was worth it.
"The initial cost is expensive, but it's already paid for itself over the four years. Not having to re-sod it, not having to water. The yard guys[come less often]. So it's more than paid for itself," said Dvorak.
Many homeowners can be skeptical at the beginning, until they see the fake grass first-hand.
Not all cities in North Texas are on board with artificial grass, though.
Frisco does not allow artificial turf at this time, and many homeowners' associations have rules.
Highland Park passed an ordinance restricting artificial turf to back yards.
Other cities, however, have no rules in place limiting synthetic grass. Those cities include Dallas, Arlington, Denton, and University Park....