CA Residents Burdened by Water Restrictions While Big Business Gets a Break

Monday, April 13, 2015
By Paul Martin

As California continues to suffer one of its worst droughts in decades, residents face potential fines of $500 daily for excessive water use. But as the average Joe is being forced to rearrange his shower routine, the state is giving major breaks to big business.

In 1974’s “”Chinatown,” private eye Jake Gittes stumbles into a conspiracy surrounding California’s water supply during the thirsty 1930s. “Can you believe it?” a mortician asks. “We’re in the middle of a drought, and the water commissioner drowns. Only in LA.” Thus unfolds a plot in which Gittes learns a crucial truth: in the desert, water can become a dangerous, political commodity.

The classic screenplay was based on the real life California Water Wars of the early 20th century, a series of political conflicts which evidently continue to this day.

After four years of drought, water levels in California’s reservoirs continue to fall, and citizens have been asked to take drastic measures. Earlier this month, Governor Jerry Brown announced controversial new policies to curtail unnecessary water use.

“This executive order is done under emergency power,” Brown told ABC’s This Week. “We have a state water board that oversees the relationships with the districts. Hundreds of them. If they don’t comply, people can be fined $500 a day. 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.”

But many have noted that such draconian measures place an undue burden on individuals, and fail to place any restrictions on big business – the largest consumers of the state’s water supply.

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