California water regulators are ordering an end to outdoor watering around businesses.
Water regulators voted Tuesday to ban watering of “nonfunctional” turf in commercial areas such as hospitals, hotels, office parks and industrial centers. The State Water Resources Control Board also moved to order all state major urban water providers to increase their conservation efforts. These actions are now the strongest regulatory actions state officials have taken in the third year of the latest drought that is still active for most of state. They come a day after Governor Gavin Newsom warned urban water providers that mandatory cuts could be coming unless Californians do more to conserve water usage. So far, Californians have failed to cut their urban water use as much as they did during the last drought that ended in 2017, and numbers have not improved.
“There is a sense of urgency here,” Water Board Chairman Joaquin Esquivel said before Tuesday’s vote. The restrictions only prohibit potable water being applied to “nonfunctional” turf around the state’s “commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors," and does not prohibit Californians from watering trees, which help cool urban areas.
Governor Newsom had already asked water providers to move to Level 2, which assumes that each district is facing up to a 20% cut to their supply. Before Tuesday’s vote, only about half of the state’s population was under a water district that had moved to Level 2. “Every water agency across the state needs to take more aggressive actions to communicate about the drought emergency and implement conservation measures,” Governor Newsom said in a written statement after the meeting. “We all have to be more thoughtful about how to make every drop count.”