How California’s snitches are slaking thirst for justice

Reservoirs are at just 60 per cent of the historical average

Los Angeles

As California staggers thirstily through its worst drought in decades, the state’s more conscientious residents are employing extreme measures to curb their neighbours’ wasteful water use.

In a phenomenon known as “drought shaming”, many are calling water utility hotlines to report excessive lawn-watering or car-washing, while others snitch via social media, posting images of waste accompanied by the hashtag #DroughtShaming.

The whole of California is now officially in “severe drought”. Reservoirs are at just 60 per cent of the historical average. A recent study suggested the drought is likely to cost California $2.2bn (£1.3bn) this year, and to put approximately 17,000 agricultural labourers out of work.

In January, California Governor Jerry Brown called for a 20 per cent voluntary reduction in water use from the state, but water use decreased by just five per cent in the subsequent five months For 270 days beginning on 1 August, the California Water Resources Board has introduced fines of up to $500 for residents or businesses using drinkable water to spray down pavements, in non-circulating fountains or to water lawns and wash cars.

For some, brown lawns have become a reason to boast – even the grass outside the State Capitol in Sacramento has gone unwatered. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has increased its “cash for grass” rebate, offering $3 to residents for every square foot of grass they replace with drought-resistant plants.

Yet even with the threat of fines, many Californians are still blithely dousing their driveways. The Sacramento Department of Utilities has reportedly fielded more than 10,000 complaints from residents so far this year – up from around 700 this time last year.

While many are taking to Twitter to name and shame offending neighbours, lengthy-showering housemates and golf courses, at least two smartphone apps have emerged as efficient drought shaming platforms. H20 Tracker allows users to inform city authorities instantly of a neighbour’s excessive water use, sending a report and pictures with just a few keystrokes.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
News
news
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Tutor required for Level 3 Workskills

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Eduction are...

Primary Supply Teacher - Loughborough

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Teacher looking fo...

Primary General Cover Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher lo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week