Californians can be fined $500 a day for “taking long showers,” watering their lawns, or wasting water in other ways, under an emergency executive order issued by Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA.)
Brown defended the harsh new restrictions yesterday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“This executive order is done under emergency power; it has the force of law,” said Brown. “Very unusual. It’s requiring action and changes in behavior from the Oregon border all the way to the Mexican border. It affects lawns. It affects people’s — how long they stay in the shower. How businesses use water.”
“If they don’t comply, people can be fined $500 a day,” said Brown. “Districts can go to court to get a cease and desist order. The enforcement mechanism is powerful. In a drought of this magnitude, you have to change that behavior and you have to change it substantially.”
Host Martha Raddatz pressed Brown citing figures from The Economist that showed more water is used for almond production than is used by the residents and businesses of San Francisco and Los Angeles combined.
"The farmers have fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of land," Brown said. "They’re pulling up vines and trees. Farm workers who are very low end of the economic scale here are out of work. There are people in agriculture areas that are really suffering.”
“They’re not watering their lawn or taking long showers," he added. "They’re providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America. And a significant part of the world.”
While agriculture only makes up 2 percent of California's economy, it uses 80 percent of the state's water, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. In most states, agriculture accounts for the vast majority of water useage.
Raddatz continued to challenge Brown on water use by farms, to which Brown replied: “Of course we could cut it off – if you don’t want to produce any food.”