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California Drought

California Gov. Brown Wants $10,000 Fine for Water-Wasters

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday called for $10,000 fines for residents and businesses that waste the most water as California cities try to meet mandatory conservation targets during the drought. The recommendation was part of a legislative proposal Brown said he would make to expand enforcement of water restrictions.

His announcement came as his administration faces skepticism about his a sweeping plan to save water, and just hours before regulators were scheduled to release an updated plan assigning each community an updated water use reduction target.

"We've done a lot. We have a long way to go," Brown said after meeting with the mayors of 14 cities, including San Diego and Oakland. "So maybe you want to think of this as just another installment on a long enterprise to live with a changing climate and with a drought of uncertain duration."

The governor also said he is directing state agencies to speed up environmental review of projects that increase local water supplies. Mayors have complained that such projects have been delayed by red tape. A legislative panel on Monday rejected a bill supported by Republicans to speed construction of new water storage projects.

Last summer, state regulators authorized $500 fines for outdoor water waste, but few cities have levied such high amounts. Many agencies have said they would rather educate customers than penalize them. California is in its fourth year of drought, and state officials fear it may last as long as a decade.

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— The Associated Press