Last week, the National Weather Service (NWS) classified over 80 percent of California as in “Extreme Drought” or worse, and reported that the first six months of this year were the hottest ever in the state, at nearly five degrees warmer than the 20th century average.
To help conserve what water resources California does have, many cities and counties are looking to hire ‘water cops’ to enforce new regulations that will take effect in August. These include prohibiting the watering of lawns more than twice a week, washing down streets and/or sidewalks, and the washing of cars with a hose that doesn’t have some sort of shut-off valve. The regulations also authorize local authorities to fine violators up to $500 a day.
On Tuesday, the water district serving Silicon Valley approved, with zero objection, to spend half a million dollars on enforcement, including the hiring of conservation agents. Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power is hiring four full-time and two part-time staff for the water-waste response unit, according to the agency’s assistant general manager, Jim McDaniel. McDaniel also said they could hire as many as nine people and that the LAPD will also help identify the violators.
The drought, while being more extreme this year than in the past, is really an on-going problem. Bill Patzert, a climatologist with NASA, says the drought really began in 1999 and has only worsened over time. In downtown Los Angeles, the 2012 to 2014 rainy seasons have brought just 11.93 inches of rainfall, which is almost 18 inches below normal, according to the NWS.
Sadly, experts do not see relief any time soon for the parched state. Climatologist Brian Fuchs of the National Drought Mitigation Center says that the prolonged drought will make it difficult for the state to recover, even when the rain does fall.