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Paul Zimmerman

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New California Water Restrictions Extend to Restaurants, Bars and Hotels

California is in year four of a severe drought crisis that is the worst in the state’s history. In January 2014, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state drought emergency in California and asked state residents and businesses to cut back their water use by 20%. Nevertheless, new data released for January 2015 showed that Californians reduced their water usage by only 8.8% compared to January 2014.

In April 2015, the Governor directed the State Water Resources Control Board to impose a 25% reduction on the state’s 400 local water supply agencies, which serve 90% of California residents. This mandated decrease in water usage amounts to roughly 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, the most drastic restrictions imposed by the State Water Resources Control Board to date. The new regulations are scheduled to be implemented within two weeks and remain in effect for 270 days.

These new restrictions affect the hospitality industry specifically. The regulations require all hotels, bars and restaurants to stop serving water unless their customers request it. Hotels must also provide signs in all guest rooms advising them of their option of not having their towels and linens washed daily. However, violations of the rules (which carry fines of up to $500 per day) will be left up to local cities, counties and water districts to enforce. Additional restrictions on use of water in landscaping and decorative water features also apply. In order to be in compliance with the new California water regulations, hospitality businesses would be well advised to consult with experienced legal counsel. 

This article is not offered as, and should not be relied on as, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.