California is in the midst of the third-most severe drought on record, though apparently many in Fairfield have missed the memo, if the not-uncommon sight of sprinkler water cascading down sidewalks and into the streets is any evidence. And, indeed, water usage throughout the state has increased by 1 percent compared with consumption over each of the past three years.
Because of this, on July 15, the State Water Resources Control Board announced new regulations aimed at increasing water conservation in urban settings; these regulations bring the possibility of $500-per-day fines for, among other things, the “watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff.” These regulations, which go into effect Aug. 1, will be inert in the absence of enforcement, which is partially the purview of local water providers, such as Fairfield’s Public Works Water Division.
As yet, the Water Division website (www.fairfield.ca.gov/gov/depts/pw/utility/water/default.asp) has no information on how to report local water wasters, though a website for reporting offending state entities is online at http://saveourh2o.org/node/447.
Anecdotally, water waste is legion throughout town. To give but two examples, the sidewalks outside the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce are regularly doused with water that runs into the street and pools against the curb (https://vine.co/v/M2rEMFjKOFa), and the parking lot of the Fairfield Civic Center Library flaunts a genuine stream running through it at night, fed as it is by dozens of wayward sprinklers. Doubtless, neither the chamber nor the library are malign in their wastefulness, but there is simply no excuse for it given the historic proportions of this extensively documented drought.
I urge the city to set up convenient means of reporting water waste – both by phone and online – that will help combat this ruinous drought, not by financial reprisal, which should be a last resort, but by making it easy to share information that will curtail profligate water use.