Is CA Ready for a $10,000 Fine for Water Wasting?

Governor Jerry Brown seats on a stage at The Beverly Hilton Hotel and tells thousands at the Milken Global Conference that "the drought is a challenge." He's at the conference to talk about global warming, but the drought is like an elephant in the room on this subject.

Ironically, this conference is going on in Beverly Hills which is having its problems with the water crisis. The city has been asked to cut its water use by 36%. To do that it has imposed strict new water conservation measures and locals are hearing the concerns.

Especially for Beverly Hills where the Governor was making an appearance. This city has been asked to cut water use by 36% and it's not easy in this land of big homes and lawns. The city has imposed strict new water conservation measures. And, locals are hearing the call...

Laurie Sasson rents out property in Beverly Hills. She's having the yard turned into something more drought tolerant that it is now. She says, "I'm extremely concerned. I'm extremely concerned for us here down south, in the Central Valley where all of our food is being grown and I think everyone has got to pitch in."

Otherwise says Governor Brown it could be worse. "In Brazil, Sao Paulo, they turn the water at 5 O'clock in the afternoon and they don't turn it on again in the morning. We're not gonna go there."

But, the Governor does want to raise fines on egregious water-wasters from as much as $500 to $10,000 bucks per day.

What's a water-wasting-crime worthy of a $10,000 fine? Nobody I've asked from Sacramento to here has been able to answer that question. Not the State Water Board. Not, even, the Governor's Press Aide. But, when you ask people on the street what they think about the Governor's proposal you find people on both sides.

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Bottom line is that right now there are no specifics on implementation or how fines would be determined. A water board spokesman told me that would require negotiations between the Governor's office and the Legislature. Kevin de Leon is President pro tempore of the State Senate. He says, "We've got to make sure there are teeth in the penalties. But, we will negotiate with the Governor. We want to make sure it's fair, not overly punitive to residents and want to make sure we meet our overall target.

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