california is in its third year of drought, or lack of rain. farmers in california's central valley have suffered major reductions in the amount of water they can use. the cuts are threatening agriculture, one of the state's major industries.
at the same time, up to half the water in the city of los angeles is used for watering the grass on people's property. but the huge city has strong laws that limit water waste. so, local officials send officers to enforce the laws.
voa correspondent mike o'sullivan took an early morning ride with a los angeles water officer.
rick silva of the los angeles department of water and power travels the city in search of illegal watering.
on a recent day, the water officer drives his car up and down the streets of the hollywood hills, a rich neighborhood in central los angeles. mr. silva sometimes pulls over to the roadside when he sees watering systems operating illegally, or water running down the street.
"we've been looking for run-off from lawns, people that are watering on the wrong days, and (working) more just to get them on board that a lot of water is being used towards irrigation (watering), and that there's also a lot of potential savings there."
fines for homeowners who do not cooperate start at $100. fines for businesses start at $200. in the future, water-wasters could pay fines of up to $500. but most people who violate city laws get a warning and advice about how to reduce their water use.