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CA Weighs Permanent Water Restrictions 02/20 06:11

   SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- That sign in hotel rooms asking guests if they 
really need their towels and sheets washed each day would become the rule in 
California, enforced with a $500 fine, if water officials vote to make a series 
of smaller-scale conservation measures permanent in the drought-prone state.

   Members of the state Water Resources Control Board are scheduled to decide 
Tuesday whether to bring back what had been temporary water bans from 
California's 2013-2017 drought and make them permanent.

   U.S. drought monitors last week declared that nearly half the state, all of 
it in Southern California, is now back in drought, just months after the state 
emerged from that category of drought.

   Most of the restrictions would take effect in April. They include 
prohibitions on watering lawns so much that the water flows into the street, 
using a hose to wash down sidewalks, or using a hose without an automatic 
shut-off nozzle to wash cars.

   Hotels would have to ask guests about those towels and sheets. Running an 
ornamental fountain without a recirculating system would be barred, as would 
watering outside within 48 hours of a good rain. Another measure would give 
cities and counties until 2025 to stop watering ordinary street medians.

   Many of the measures, like the one on hotel towels, are already widely 
followed, and common sense, said Max Gomberg, a state water-conservation 

   "Nothing's more wasteful than when the rain is falling from the sky and the 
sprinkler's on," he said.

   Water officials expect neighbors to be responsible for detecting most of the 
wasteful water use and they have no plans to add more enforcement officers if 
the permanent restrictions are adopted. Generally, first-time offenders would 
get warnings, while repeat offenders risk fines.

   California already has a website, , that allows 
citizens to report wasteful water use.

   Gov. Jerry Brown lifted California's drought emergency status a year ago, 
after a wet winter that snapped a historic 2013-2017 drought. Strict 25 percent 
conservation orders for cities and towns and other watering restrictions phased 
out with the end of the emergency status.

   Some climate scientists say the drought never fully ended in parts of 
Southern California. The Los Angeles area has received just a fourth of normal 
rainfall so far this rainy season. The U.S. Drought Monitor said last week that 
46 percent of the state is back in drought, all of it in California's south.


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