California Residents Report Water Wasters by Smartphone

By Sarah Le, Epoch Times

PASADENA, CALIF.—California residents are becoming more water conscious as stricter regulations to preserve water are put in place state-wide.

Some are not just watching their own water use, but are turning their attention to their neighbors, and publicly shaming them for wasting water. This has become a trend on social media “drought shaming”, or on twitter #droughtshaming.

Inspired by the trend, a company called Vizsafe that allows users to report things like lost pets or domestic violence in their neighborhoods recently added a new “drought” section to their community safety app.

Any post on Twitter with the hashtag #droughtshaming that includes a photo and location tag is automatically posted on Vizsafe. Photos and videos about the drought posted directly on Vizsafe have dwarfed Twitter drought postings in recent days.

An anonymous Vizsafe user posted a photo on Sunday at 4:16 p.m. with the text, “Caught my neighbor across the street washing her car in the middle of the day and letting the water hose run all over the street. She wasted water and also washes down her driveway every morning.”

Cities like Pasadena, just outside Los Angeles, also have an app to report examples of water wasting as part of their Citizen Service Center, although officials there ask that residents try to work it out before reporting their neighbor.

“We don’t necessarily want to encourage any shaming, of course,” said Jennifer Guess, the Public Information Coordinator for the Pasadena Department of Water and Power. “But [we are] instituting a level of responsibility. We’re all working in this together, so if they see something that is an excessive misuse of water, we do want to know about it.”

New state water regulations raised fines for residential offenses last week up to $500 a day, while commercial fines can run as high as $1,000 a day. Municipal water agencies are also required to follow the new regulations, and cities that don’t comply can be fined up to $10,000 each day.

The new regulations took effect last Tuesday, the same day millions of gallons of water spilled from a broken water main near UCLA.

“8M gal. of ?#water lost in ?#UCLA ?#WaterMainBreak lifetime supply for average family of 4 ?#Drought ?#DroughtShaming ?#DWP,” wrote Twitter user Andrew Kao.

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @dadasarahle