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Calif. cities clamp down on water use

A water conservation inspector checked a leaky pipe in a Sacramento commercial building.

Rich Pedroncelli /aP

A water conservation inspector checked a leaky pipe in a Sacramento commercial building.

SACRAMENTO — At least 45 water agencies across California, including Sacramento, are imposing and enforcing mandatory restrictions on water use as their supplies run dangerously low.

Sacramento is one of the few bigger agencies actively patrolling streets for violators and encouraging neighbors to report waste. Officials encourage residents to avoid hosing down driveways, overwatering lawns, or filling swimming pools. While gentle reminders are preferred, citations and fines can follow for repeat offenders.

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Visalia, a city of 120,000 people, has hired a part-time worker for night patrols and reduced the number of warnings from two to one before issuing $100 fines.

Mandatory limits are not as widespread as in past droughts, even among drier parts of Southern California. One reason is more cities are conserving and making it expensive for residents to guzzle water.

Sacramento, where half the homes are unmetered, is deploying the state’s most aggressive water patrols to compensate. In February, the city deputized 40 employees who drive regularly as part of their municipal jobs to report and respond to water waste.

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