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Kevin Wattier, general manager of the Long Beach Water Department, said the agency already has mandatory restrictions but added that his district's starting $50 fine is too small to bother enforcing. The possibility of heftier penalties alone should stop guzzlers, he said.
Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, said he doesn't expect fines to be imposed on a large scale, but he said the regulations would push Californians to take the drought seriously. "The word 'voluntary' doesn't say 'serious' to most people; the word 'mandatory' does," Quinn said.
Marcus, the water board chairwoman, said the proposed regulations are reasonable steps.
"What we're proposing here as an opening salvo is the bare minimum," Marcus told reporters during a conference call. "If it doesn't rain later this fall, we certainly will consider more stringent measures."
She said board members might require efforts to stop leaks that account for an estimated 10 percent of water use, stricter landscape restrictions and encouraging water agencies to boost rates for consumers who use more than their share of water.
"We're not trying to spank people. We're trying to ring a bell and get people's attention," she said.
"We have communities struggling for water and bathing out of buckets," Marcus said. It's fair, she said, for the state to require that at a minimum, "that people don't water sidewalks, that people don't let their water run when they're washing their car."