The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted today to limit outdoor watering and require water suppliers to closely monitor use.
Supervisor Don Knabe recommended the county adopt emergency regulations set by the State Water Resources Control Board.
"Eighty percent of California is suffering from extreme drought conditions with no relief in sight," Knabe said. "As the largest employer in Los Angeles County, we maintain and operate over 5,000 buildings and facilities. We need to ensure our house is in order and not only do our part in unincorporated areas, but also set an example for the 88 cities in the county."
State conservation measures, which Knabe called aggressive, ban people from hosing off driveways and sidewalks or using hoses without a shut-off nozzle. Fountains that do not recirculate water are prohibited.
Outdoor watering is limited to two days per week under the rules, which give local agencies the authority to issue fines of up to $500 for violations or letting water run onto sidewalks and streets.
Under the new rules, water suppliers will be required to report per capita usage.
Most California residents use more water outside than inside their homes, according to the water board. In some neighborhoods, more than half the water consumed goes to lawns and gardens.
Felicia Marcus, the chair of the state board, warned last week that the drought could get more severe as time drags on.
"Fields are fallowed, communities are running out of water, fish and wildlife will be devastated. The least that urban Californians can do is to not waste water on outdoor uses," Marcus said. "It is in their self-interest to conserve more now to avoid far more harsh restrictions if the drought lasts into the future."
Gov. Jerry Brown declared the drought a statewide emergency on Jan. 17. He has called on Californians to cut water use by 20 percent. The first six months of 2014 were the hottest on record, according to the National Weather Service.
The restrictions affect unincorporated areas only. Individual cities must make their own restrictions, many which have, such as Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The Board of Supervisors voted to put the regulations into effect by Aug. 1.