Cities fined for falling short of state-required water cutbacks

Coachella Valley is known for its desert golf courses, but it has been trying to reach its water conservation goal.Coachella Valley is known for its desert golf courses, but it has been trying to reach its water conservation goal.

California fined four communities $61,000 each for failing to reach their water conservation goals.

Beverly Hills, the Coachella Valley Water District and the cities of Indio and Redlands have collectively used 2.3 billion gallons since June, and Coachella Valley used 1.4 billion gallons by itself, according to the Sacramento Bee.

When Gov. Jerry Brown issued the order to reduce water usage by an average 25 percent, the state water board targeted water agencies with higher per-capita usage for larger cuts.

Coachella Valley’s goal was 36 percent and it managed to cut back 27 percent. Redlands was also supposed to reach 36 percent and reduced its usage 25 percent.

According the Sacramento Bee, Redlands city officials were surprised by the fine.

“It’s a really high bar; 36 percent is a really high bar,” said Carl Baker, Redlands spokesman. “We have a warm climate, large lots.”

Beverly Hills and Indio were both supposed to reduce their water usage by 32 percent, but only managed 20 and 22-percent cuts, respectively.

The fines amount to $500 a day since June 1. According to the water board’s director of enforcement, Cris Carrigan, the fines could reach $10,000 a day if the districts do not step up their conservation efforts.

“We want to work with these entities that have received these fines to get them to do better,” Carrigan told USA Today. “We don’t want the fine money. We want them to do better.”

Beverly Hills intends to improve its conservation by introducing penalty surcharges, increasing its staff to address water violations and developing individualized conservation programs.

The state of California was able to cut its usage by 26 percent for the month of September.

“Millions of Californians have demonstrated their commitment to saving water during this drought,” Carrigan said. “Nevertheless, we could have saved even more water if some of the homes, businesses and institutions in these communities had stepped up in the way that their fellow Californians have.”

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