As the impact of the three-year drought continues to spread across California, mandatory statewide water restrictions are expected to be instituted for the first time by the State Water Resources Control Board. State and federal agencies have already sharply reduced water shipments in California, as reservoirs in the western region of the United States are shriveling, like Lake Oroville falling to 39% of capacity.
A recent report showed that water consumption in California has risen during the worst drought in nearly four decades and the state had failed to achieve the 20% reduction in water use sought by Governor Jerry Brown. Upcoming water restrictions are likely to ban practices such as allowing sprinkler water to run off lawns onto streets and washing cars without hoses equipped with a shut-off nozzle. Maximum penalties for violations by individuals would be $500, enforceable by local water agencies. The board estimates the restrictions, which are to take effect in early August, could save enough water to supply more than 3.5 million people for a year.
However, the emergency drought measures in California will not extend to the controversial corporation, Nestle. Nestle is not required to comply with state regulations because its bottling plant is located on a Native American reservation. Native American reservations are considered sovereign nations by the United States government, and, therefore, are not required to comply with federal or state laws. According to reports, Nestle Water is extracting about 200 million gallons of water from an already scarce water source in the desert ecosystem. Drawing water from this location prevents water from seeping downhill to fill aquifers of nearby towns struggling for water during the drought. Additionally, studies have estimated that for every liter of water bottled, 3 liters of water are discarded.
About 58 of the 440 local water districts represented by the Association of California Water Agencies have already implemented some forms of mandatory restriction. Other agencies have implemented tiered pricing, which penalizes heavy water users by charging more for excessive use. In the long term, California and other drought-prone states will have to refocus on expanding their water infrastructure create more storage in order to deal with prolonged dry spells. Help conserve water by switching to a Quench Bottleless Water Cooler, which filters water as you drink it so no water is wasted!