Put down your watering hose—especially if you live in Sacramento. At least 45 water agencies throughout California are imposing and enforcing water restrictions due to dangerously low precipitation levels from the winter, the AP reports. Street patrollers are searching for water abusers and, at times, handing out steep fines to repeat offenders.
Even with rain and snow in February and March, California's water supply and snowpack remain low, leaving little H2O for farms and cities during the upcoming dry months. For this reason, residents have been encouraged to conserve wherever they can.
In February, Sacramento deputized 40 employees to report and respond to water waste. Six of them are on water patrol full-time. Neighbors are also encouraged to report water waste. In the first three months of this year, Sacramento received 3,245 water-waste complaints, compared to 183 in the same period last year.
For the most part, officials say, residents are willing to make changes to their overall water usage.
"No one wants to be the water cops," Lisa Lien-Mager, spokesperson for the Association of California Water Agencies, told the AP. "When they are asked to conserve, Californians will generally respond."