While California Governor Jerry Brown has officially declared an end to the drought in California, he also signed two bills that will make mandatory water conservation permanent.
The bills cite climate change as the driving reason to limit Californians’ water consumption at home to 55 gallons a day, effectively making it impossible for lead regular lives without facing massive fines. Furthermore, water consumption will be gradually restricted as the years go by, dropping to a limit of 50 gallons per person per day by the year 2030. However, there is far more to the bill than a simple reduction of water usage.
One of the most controversial aspects of this new bill is the fact that the government will use it to essentially force utility companies to spy on their customers or face massive fines themselves. The new bill makes it clear that utility companies can use satellite imagery and other forms of technology to make sure people in their area aren’t using more water than they should. What’s more, the bill even states that utility companies can use site visits to keep people in their area under control. While there are no guidelines laid down regarding what would happen if a homeowner would refuse to allow utility company personnel onto his or her property, the fact that the government is mandating the spying would indicate that such a homeowner could find him or herself in legal hot water.
Another glaring problem with the new bill is the fact that it makes “provisions” for rich homeowners to keep their swimming pools, spas, water fountains and other water features up and running while those who can’t afford these luxurious are stuck wondering how to shower, wash laundry and do the dishes on the same day.
As a local mother with a young child noted, the water restrictions are simply not realistic for any parents who wants to keep the house and clothes clean on a regular basis. At the same time, farmers in the state who grow a large portion of the food that is consumed throughout the country will have to jump through numerous bureaucratic hoops in order to get the water they need for their farms. The farmers will be required to create water management plans that must be approved by government workers who, in all likelihood, know far less about the crops and livestock in question than the farmers themselves.
No area of California will be exempt from having to follow the new guidelines. While Northern California naturally has far more water than the south, the government’s plan to build a water tunnel to bring water southward means that even North Californian farmers that live close to lakes, rivers or other bodies of water will be affected by the new water regulations. In turn, the entire country could be adversely affected by the new law if a reduction in crops and livestock results in higher grocery store prices.
Making a Draconian new law to regular water usage based on droughts and climate change that could occur in the future isn’t something that many states are looking into doing. However, the fact that a precedent has been set with this new law could inspire other state governors to make similar laws should a water shortage occur during an extended dry spell. The new law would then not only make it difficult for ordinary citizens to live normal lives, but also give the government even more power than ever to spy on the behavior of people living in their state, checking up on law-abiding residents to see how they water the lawn, wash clothes, shower and mop the floor.
Proponents of the law are naturally touting it as a common-sense way to tackle enduring water shortages. They note that the state government has goals in place for vehicular and energy efficiency so setting water efficiency goals isn’t such a bad idea after all. However, the impact of this law is clearly more far-reaching than any other law the local government has drawn up, and it’s sure to be a controversial piece of legislation for the foreseeable future.
~ Liberty Planet