In Sacramento Drought, Conservation Scofflaws In Hot Water

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Steve Upton, an inspector for the water conservation unit for the Sacramento Utilities department, climbs out of his truck to make an inspection of an alleged water waste while making his rounds in Sacramento, Calif, March 11, 2014. At least 45 water agencies throughout California have imposed mandatory restrictions on water use as their supplies run dangerously low. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

As California — and wide swaths of the west, south and southwest — struggles with high temperatures and drought, towns are taking increasingly drastic measures to preserve water.

In Nevada, some towns have paid residents to remove their lawns, and homeowners are banned from planting grass. In rural California, one sheriff was stationed at a lake to ensure that residents didn’t steal water. And in New Mexico, one town used only bottled water for several days last year.

It’s with that backdrop that Sacramento, California, has undertaken the state’s most aggressive water patrols, reasoning that state-wide restrictions do not go far enough. In February, Sacramento deputized 40 employees, whose job now includes driving around the city, reporting and responding to water waste.

In only three months the city has received more than 3,200 water waste complaints, compared to 183 the previous year. Here & Now’s Robin Young talks to Ryan Geach, one of Sacramento’s water patrol employees, about the city’s conservation efforts.


  • Ryan Geach, Sacramento water patrol employee.
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