Mandatory water restrictions in effect across California amid drought

ARCADIA, Calif. (KABC) -- New mandatory water restrictions went into effect across California on Monday. The goal is to beat the state's historic drought.

Gov. Jerry Brown's executive order requires statewide savings to average 25 percent.

Some local water agencies are being required to cut back anywhere from 8 to 36 percent. Arcadia is one of several cities at the highest end of the spectrum.

"We've got problems. We've had drought for four years," said Linda Semain, an Arcadia resident. "I think our lawns are going to be a slightly different color."

A sign on a lawn on Santa Anita Avenue read, "It's green to go brown. This lawn is brown because the city is complying with state water regulations. We are happy to do our part to reduce water use by 36%. Will you?"

Landscaper Wesley Stanton said he's been very busy converting properties to have drought tolerant plants.

"It's either start converting now, or you're going to wind up with dead plants or high fines," Stanton said.

The new water restrictions come as California prepares for a possible fifth year of drought.

Arcadia Councilman Tom Beck is leading by example. He had crews tear out the grass from his backyard. He said his front yard is next.

"With my landscaping, I just decided that we were using just too much water," Beck said.

He said each home in Arcadia is given a water budget based on the size of the home and size of the lot.

"Some people, it takes to have a fine to get them to change their thinking," Beck said.

Those fines can be hefty. Local water agencies in Southern California can fine property owners up to $500 a day if they don't abide by the new restrictions.

The State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento is expecting to see some immediate savings as they encourage residents to let their lawns die.

Some local water departments have called the mandatory reductions unrealistic and unfair, arguing that the steep cuts could cause higher water bills for customers and declining property values when homeowners' lawns turn brown.

In addition to Arcadia, Norco, Yorba Linda and Beverly Hills also fall under the 36-percent water reduction requirement.

You can see a full list of regions and corresponding conservation requirements here.

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