- The Washington Times - Monday, October 20, 2014

California “water cops” are on the patrol, combing the streets of various communities to make sure nobody is watering their grass or washing their vehicles without government permission — even asking neighbors to turn in neighbors who go against the state’s drought rules.

Some even bring cameras on the job to catch violators watering their lawns at night, Reuters reported.

“If I can get a good picture — if there’s a lot of water — I’ll cite them,” said Paul Brown, a hired meter reader who was patrolling his Sacramento-area neighborhood when he heard a running sprinkler system, Reuters reported.

Mr. Brown said he specifically asked to patrol that particular area because a lot of neighbors were complaining about others in the community who were wasting water, Reuters reported.

For the unlucky water sprinkler owner, Mr. Brown’s patrol brought on a warning — but subsequent offenses could bring a fine of up to $500, Reuters said. A second offense would also require the homeowners to attend a meeting on how to save water.

Sacramento has hired six “water cops” like Mr. Brown to patrol the streets for water violators and to field telephone calls from residents who want to turn in their neighbors, Reuters said.

The patrols and tattle-telling seems to be working. Water use in the city fell by 25 percent in August 2014, compared to August 2013, Reuters said. And around the state, water use fell by 11.5 percent in that same month, compared to August 2013.

“Regulations make better results than voluntary exhortations,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, on the new enforcement measures, Reuters reported. “People want to know that everybody else is doing it.”

In Los Angeles, the city has fielded 4,400 reports of water use violators — leading to 2,200 warning citations. And Long Beach officers residents have the ability to use a water-waster app for their smartphones — so they can report neighbors and businesses who use water to clean sidewalks, or who fail to repair water line leaks, to the conservation authorities, Reuters reported.

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