Businesses and homeowners in Newport Beach are taking steps towards conserving water that will hopefully add up in the fight against California's drought and limit the fines the city faces for not meeting the statewide quota of reducing water consumption by 25 percent.
"Making people ask for a glass of water, instead of just handing them a glass of water, and then going to more disposables to cut down on a lot of the dishwashing," Andrew Gabriel said, a restaurant owner in the coastal community.
The city of Newport Beach already limits lawn watering to four times a week and prohibits residents from refilling their pools more than one foot a week.
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After months spent "educating" residents about what days they can water lawns and how much water they use, Newport Beach officials are seeking new authority to issue fines and have been sending out hundreds of warnings.
"We liked the friendly approach, and it seems to be working well, but we aren't afraid to issue citations," said George Murdoch, the city's utilities general manager.
Since last July, Newport Beach residents used 124 gallons a day, compared with 100 gallons a day used by others who live in nearby beach communities. Much still has to be done, but officials say they they're at least heading in the right direction.
"Especially on the outdoor irrigation. Restricting the days of the week was challenging for some. A lot of homeowners don't even know how to change the timer on their sprinkler system so they call in and say, 'how do I do this?', so we know that they're getting the message and reducing," Murdoch said.
The water board has given local water departments discretion to come up with their own conservation rules but has set some statewide regulations, such as banning lawn watering 48 hours after rain and prohibiting restaurants from serving water unless customers ask.
The agency is also going to direct municipalities to charge customers in a way that penalizes overconsumption.