Mixer: Water levels, down; water shaming, way up

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As the severe drought continues in California, the state’s water authority is now actively imposing fines of up to $500 on people who are wasteful.

The Los Angeles Times reports the city’s Department of Water and Power has increased its patrol of water wasting by quadrupling the number of its city-wide inspectors: from one to four.

Los Angeles has about four million people.

Water tables are at historic lows, groundwater is still mostly unregulated, and people are reporting their fellow residents and neighbors for any water malfeasance.

Joe Mathews is California Columnist for Zocalo Public Square, an Ideas Exchange that publishes daily. James Nash is LA bureau reporter for Bloomberg. They both joined us for the Mixer.

With heavy reporting of the drought, people are increasingly taking fellow residents and neighbors to task for their disregard of statewide water regulations.

These new water shamers, or as I call them “vigilaguas,” are posting pictures of wet pavement and daytime lawn watering on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Even the most beneficent acts, for charity, are coming under water fire.

There’s also this story: a retired teacher in San Ramon, named Fran Paxson, dug up her thirsty lawn and replaced it with more sustainable landscaping.

She got a rebate from her utility for doing that.

But her homeowners’ association slapped her with a $50 a month fine because they say it would reduce property values. For their part, they said it they fined her because she didn’t get board approval first.

According to Governor Jerry Brown’s website, when Brown declared a drought emergency earlier this year, the state also prohibited Homeowners Associations from penalizing residents for conservation measures.

Our friends at Zocalo this week reported on another phenomenon quite different from the inter-neighbor in-fighting that’s going on: how a major drought in Australia actually brought people together.