They debated for hours, but Tuesday, California water regulators voted to approve fines of up to $500 a day for you if you waste water on your lawn, landscaping and washing your car.

The 4-to-0 approval came after a survey showed water consumption throughout California had actually risen by 1 percent this May compared to the same month in previous years.

During the hearing, June Lopez the General Manager of Multon Miguel Water District questioned how the fines would be imposed.

"An infraction is a criminal penalty, many agencies do not have police power to enforce them," she said. 

While others ,like Patrick Porgas with Planetary Solutionaries, noted that today's drought is neither the first nor the worst.

"This is the fourth driest drought that we've had, and I've been here for just about every major drought that we have experienced," he said.  

The rules include exemptions for public health and safety, such as allowing cities to power-wash sidewalks to get rid of human waste left by homeless people. However, the fact still stands: the fines are approved. 

Cities and water districts also will have wide latitude to implement the fines as they wish starting in early August.

And Sacramento officials are applauding the new conservation rules, saying they will help the state mitigate the impacts of the drought.

Since January, the city has been pushing for water conservation and education for its residents.  

Director of the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities Dave Brent says this provides an additional tool that water suppliers in the state may use to achieve the goal of 20 percent reduction in water use.  

"We really feel that it puts a needed emphasis on the drought and the actual emergency that we're in," he said.