State increases fines for water wasters

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has increased penalties for state water wasters, creating a new $10,000 fine for the grossest offenders of new state water standards.

Brown made the announcement in Sacramento after meeting with 14 city mayors Tuesday to discuss the drought and other issues in Sacramento.

Brown linked the state’s water needs to global climate change.

"We've done a lot. We have a long way to go," Brown said after the meeting. "So maybe you want to think of this as just another installment on a long enterprise to live with a changing climate and with a drought of uncertain duration."

The meeting schedule and listening tour is similar to Brown’s moves after other major state action. In the months after the passage of his Local Control Funding Formula for schools and public safety realignment, Brown toured the state meeting with local public safety and education leaders to discuss the issues.

Now, the drought is Brown’s main policy and political focus.

“Earlier this month, Brown announced the first ever 25 percent statewide mandatory water reductions and a series of actions to help save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient,” his office said. “This order included measures to help: replace lawns with drought tolerant landscaping and old appliances with more water and energy efficient models; cut water use at campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes; prevent potable water irrigation at new developments unless water-efficient drip systems are used; and stop watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.”

But enforcement of those orders was thrown into doubt when a state appeals court found local tiered water rate systems were not permitted under the state constitution.

Brown proclaimed a drought state of emergency in January 2014.