TIME Environment

Unprecedented California Drought Restrictions Go Into Effect

In this Feb. 4, 2014 file photo, a warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif. Rich Pedroncelli —ASSOCIATED PRESS

Poor water conservation could cost you up to $500 a day

California implemented emergency water-conservation measures today as it struggles to cope with an ongoing drought that has sapped reservoirs and parched farms across the state.

The new rules — the first statewide curbs on water use since the current drought began nearly three years ago — can lead to fines of up to $500 per day for using a hose to clean a sidewalk, running ornamental fountains that do not recirculate water and other wasteful behaviors. The regulations will be in effect for 270 days, unless they are repealed earlier.

Officials have said they don’t expect to issue too many tickets. Instead, they hope the rules will promote conservation by making it clear how serious the drought in California has become.

“We were hoping for more voluntary conservation, and that’s the bottom line,” Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Board, told TIME when the body voted to approve the regulations on July 22. “We hope this will get people’s attention.”

An earlier effort to do that landed with a thud. In January, Governor Jerry Brown issued an emergency declaration and called for residents to voluntarily cut their water use by 20%. Earlier this month, a state survey found that California actually used more water in May than the previous three year average for that month. With the entire state experiencing some degree of drought and 80% of it in an extreme drought, the new measures are the latest effort to wake residents to the crisis.

“We can’t count on it raining next year or even the next,” Marcus said.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s What Happened When I Tried a Children’s Weight Loss App

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Michael Hevesy—Getty Images

A new Silicon Valley startup is giving kids a way to manage their eating habits on that smartphone they're glued to all the time anyway

I’m seeing red everywhere—not because I have an anger management problem but because I’ve been using Kurbo, a new app designed to help kids lose weight. And as with many things aimed at children (See: remote control cars, trampolines, songs from Frozen), adults may find themselves loving the app, too.

Kurbo is built on a “traffic light” program that has roots in research conducted decades ago, and which the founders licensed from Stanford University. Here’s how it works: Foods packed with calories, whether an ice cream sundae or bagel, are classified as red-light. Foods that you should approach with caution, like pasta and whole wheat bread, are yellow. And the go-crazy-have-all-you-want things, like broccoli or mushrooms, are green.

Kids are instructed to log everything they eat in terms of portions—and a portion, a welcome video explains, is generally the size of their fist (or open palm if the food is flat like a pizza). Users are given an automatically generated budget of reds they can have each day, and that budget can quickly become a backdrop in your mind that affects decisions you weren’t thinking much about before.

Once I found out that each slice of sourdough bread was a red and whole wheat was yellow, I started choosing wheat for my sandwiches—because the difference, one I knew about but brushed off before, was hardly worth two of my precious reds. I didn’t pick at a bowl of olives at a restaurant this past weekend, something I usually wouldn’t have even registered, because I wanted to spend that red on a beer. I can no longer justify the guacamole by telling myself that avocados are full of “good fat,” because good or bad, those babies are red. Nuts? Red. Cheese? Red. Light cheese? Beautiful yellow. (Nota bene: Eating more than two servings of any yellow in a single sitting also starts counting as a red.) There is no calorie counting or quibbling.

The downside of being so simple is that the app is inevitably reductive. If you just have a few bacon bits on a salad, you might not have a whole portion, and there’s no way to log that—and almost any nutritionist worth their salt would agree that some of the “red” foods, like the aforementioned avocados I’m suddenly abstaining from, are healthy in moderation. Also, many foods are nowhere to be found in the app’s limited (though expanding) catalog. Expecting kids to break down a dish of beef and broccoli from the local Chinese joint into individual components—when it’s unclear what those components actually are beyond beef and broccoli—is unrealistic. And while foods like nuts and even cheese are high when it comes to energy density, they have good qualities, too.

That said, the simplicity had its benefits. I found, for instance, that because I wanted to be confident in my color-logging, I’d opt for foods like a salad for which I chose the ingredients instead of one that was prepackaged. “It’s a very important behavioral principle: If you can’t count it, you can’t keep track of it, and if you can’t keep track of it, you can’t change it,” says Tom Robinson, professor of pediatrics at Stanford and director of the university’s Center for Healthy Weight. People are generally lousy at counting calories, he says, and the calorie count on a menu might be far from what actually shows up on your plate. “If you’re trying to get from 40 to 35 red lights a week,” he says, “you’re going to be focusing more on the overall choices you’re making.”

Kurbo co-founder Joanna Strober conceived of the app when she was trying to help her son to lose weight. As they visited doctors, she found they had no tools that would fit naturally into his daily life. “Okay, your child is overweight. But what do you do next?” she says. One thing she did was discover Stanford’s program for treating childhood obesity, which has a solid track record but is only available to a couple hundred families per year for a hefty sum ($3,500 for six months of weekly visits). She also found that apps marketed to the 18-and-older crowd had proved effective. So Strober tried to take every element from Stanford that she could and pack it into the Kurbo app for kids, with the help of $5.8 million in venture capital funding, making a similar system more available to the masses.

For $10 per month, a whole family gets access to the app, which comes with virtual coaching, automated notifications that nudge users to log more regularly or congratulate them for staying within their budget of reds. For $75 per month, one person in the family also gets a weekly call from a nutritional coach, some of whom have come from the Stanford program. And if that price point still sounds high, don’t despair: The company is currently in talks with insurance companies about getting coverage for usage of the app. (For the whole family to get access, users need to sign up through Kurbo’s website; an Apple app is available now, an Android app is expected in September.)

Through the Stanford program, more than 80% of kids reduce the percentage that they’re overweight, and more than 75% of overweight parents lose weight, too. In Kurbo’s beta program, which included kids ages 8 to 18, more than 85% of participants reduced their body mass index over 10 weeks.

One of the beta users was Tiana Lepera, a 14-year-old from Ogdensburg, NJ. She’s lost 10 lbs. since she starting seeing the world in red, yellow and green. “Even when we go to restaurants, we know that certain foods would be red lights, yellow lights and green lights,” she says. “If I don’t eat the bread that will be one less red light. You always think about it. It changes the way you’re thinking about food.” Her mom has meanwhile lost 29 lbs. and gone off blood pressure medication she’s had to take for the past 14 years. “Everything,” Keshia says, “corresponds to how many red lights you eat.”

TIME

17-Year-Old Pilot Haris Suleman’s Tragic Quest

+ READ ARTICLE

A close family friend says that 17-year-old Haris Suleman’s attempt to circumnavigate the world in 30 days really wasn’t about breaking any records. “He said that he would not be in the U.S. if it wasn’t for the education that his father got in Pakistan,” says Azher Khan, a close family friend. “And he wanted to raise awareness about impoverished children there.”

Haris was in the final days of his whirlwind journey intended to do just that when the single-engine plane he was flying went down in the Pacific Ocean between American Samoa and Honolulu. Crews recovered Haris’ body after a crash late Tuesday and are still searching for his father, Babar Suleman, a 58-year-old amateur pilot who accompanied Haris on the trip.

If the two had completed the trip, Haris would have set the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world in a single-engine plane, and he would have become the youngest pilot to lead such a journey (Babar only logged three minutes as the pilot in command). Investigators are still looking into the cause of the accident.

As family members and friends gather at the Suleman home in Plainfield, Ind., their Ramadan prayers have been tinged with memories of their lost family members.

“It was a noble cause and that is something that is important,” Khan says of the inspiration for the trip that led to Haris’ death.

Haris was the youngest of the Sulemans’ three children, all of whom were born in the U.S. after the family emigrated from Pakistan. Khan says Haris was a free spirit and a popular student at Plainfield High School, where he was soon to begin his senior year. Haris played varsity soccer and was “a joker on the bus,” according to Khan. But he was serious about flying.

Haris began flying with his father when he was just eight years old and received his pilot’s license in June. The around-the-world trip was planned as a fundraiser for the Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan. The duo went to great lengths to prepare, simulating plane crashes in water and taking survival courses. Babar had mapped the trip so they would be close to major shipping lanes if the plane crashed, thinking it would give them a better chance of being rescued.

“They knew the perils and had been training,” Khan says. Babar, an engineer, “had this love for flying that his son took upon him and carried on.”

During the trip, Haris occasionally blogged for the Huffington Post. On July 16, he wrote a piece explaining why the spirit of the trip was more important than its risks:

A lot of people have expressed concern that the journey that my father and I have set out on is a risky venture. Some have even questioned why we would put ourselves through such a challenge. I simply ask them: Why did Edmund Hillary Climb Mt Everest? Why did Christopher Columbus discover America? Why did Marco Polo travel to China? There is a part of everyone that craves discovery and adventure and we have chosen to live out this craving. Breaking out of the routine of day to day life requires bravery in more than one form.

Adventure for the sake of a good cause is a Suleman family tradition, Khan says: While in the Peace Corps, Haris’ older brother climbed Mount Kilamanjaro for charity, despite breaking his hand shortly before the ascent.

Khan, who became close to the Suleman family through their childrens’ friendships, says he was receiving regular updates from them during the trip. He opened his last email from Babar, which included pictures of Pakistani children at schools built with funds from the Citizens Foundation, on Wednesday morning.

“While I was sharing those memories with others,” Khan says quietly, “at that time the accident had already happened.”

TIME Small Business

Recycle, Reuse, Reprofit: Startups Try to Make Money Selling Your Stuff

Phones, clothes and even food get a second life on these sites

In a bustling San Francisco warehouse, a buyer for a startup called Twice is inspecting a pair of used jeans. She checks the buttonholes and zipper for snags, the legs and cuffs for wear. If the pants pass inspection, the old owner gets paid and the pants are cataloged, steamed and photographed before being listed on Twice’s website–at a fraction of their original cost (perhaps $19 for Levi’s). When someone else buys them, they become a pound or two of the 400 tons of clothing that Twice will resell this year. “It’s environmental,” says co-founder Noah Ready-Campbell of Twice’s mission. “It’s about reusing clothing and avoiding manufacturing more.”

Twice is one of many startups attempting to make the environmentally sound choice preferable and easy for consumers while making a profit in the process. The statistics driving these efforts are shocking: In the U.S., 90% of mobile devices are thrown away rather than recycled. Up to 40% of the food produced gets trashed. Americans junk some 12 million tons of textiles each year. “There’s no way we can continue to produce waste at the level that we are and survive on this planet,” says Adam Werbach, a co-founder of Yerdle, a site where people trade things they might otherwise throw out. “It really is much easier to click a button than it is to knock on your neighbor’s door.” And that is the convenience gap these enviro-preneurs hope to close.

Consider the steps involved in listing a used iPhone on eBay: take a picture, set a fair price, outline the specs, connect your bank, pay fees, wait a week for bids to come in and then hope it actually sells. These are inefficiencies that Silicon Valley types seek out like bloodhounds. “People actually feel guilt that they’re holding onto these items,” says Ryan Mickle, founder of the electronics auction site FOBO, where bidding lasts only 97 minutes and the company suggests starting prices for you. But in surveys with potential users, he found that ignoring old stuff still causes less angst than confronting what can be the messy process of getting it to someone else.

Many items cluttering closets and garages are less desirable than gadgets: DVDs, picture frames, bird books, an old wine carafe. These are items companies like Listia and Yerdle want on their sites, where by giving things away, people earn credits that they can spend on other users’ property. The sites aim to replace the rush that accompanies buying something new with the fun of bartering and the satisfaction that comes from giving away something you don’t need. “People are seeking out human connection in our day-to-day economic transactions,” says Arun Sundararajan, a business professor at New York University who studies these budding economies. “There is a noneconomic value that comes from giving your stuff to other people.”

Sundararajan says that if a company like Yerdle achieves its aim of displacing 25% of new sales, that’s good for the economy because it decreases waste. On the flip side, there is a possibility of job losses among people who make those new items. But he believes that other jobs in newer sectors would replace them, as happened when technological innovation put farmers out of work. “Efficiency is the name of the game in all of consumption,” says Ready-Campbell of Twice, “and in the whole economy, really.”

TIME Culture

This is What ‘Bae’ Means

Recording artist Pharrell Williams performs onstage during Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2014 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on July 17, 2014 in Los Angeles.
Recording artist Pharrell Williams performs onstage during Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2014 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on July 17, 2014 in Los Angeles. Alberto E. Rodriguez—Getty Images For Nickelodeon

TIME gives you a primer on slang that Pharrell likes enough to put in the titles of his songs

On Wednesday, Pharrell dropped a video for his new single, “Come Get It Bae,” which may immediately raise some questions, such as “Come get what?” and “What in the world does bae mean, anyway?”

The short answer: Though this word was used in the 1500s to refer to sheep sounds, today bae is used as a term of endearment, often referring to your boyfriend or girlfriend. Or perhaps a prospect who might one day hold such a lofty position.

 

Say, for instance, you post a picture of you on a yacht with Beyonce and you just so happen to be Jay-Z. You might give that photo a caption like, “Just another Tuesday with my bae. #surfbort”

There is no doubt that more people are encountering this word and wondering what it means, as evinced by this handy chart from Google Trends:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.38.53 PM

But there are some competing origin stories.

One tale supposes that bae is in fact the acronym BAE, standing for “before anyone else.” But people often like to make up such origin stories that linguists later discover were absolute poppycock, like the idea that the f-word is an acronym dating back to royal days when everyone needed the king’s permission to get in the sack—so they would be having “fornication under consent of the King.” Great story. Totally untrue.

Others argue that bae is simply a shortened version of babe, which would similarly account for the rare ae juxtapostion. Slangsters do love to embrace the “dropped letter” versions of slang words. When cool gets old, there is coo. When crazy gets tiresome, there is cray. You could do me a solid, or just do me a sol.

The term’s usage took off in 2013 and continues to rise. And as more people say bae, it’s likely that the meaning will shift in any case. When words get popular, one of two things tends to happen, as computational linguist Tyler Schnoebelen explains: “As it gets picked up by more people, its meaning will either calcify or bleach.” That is, harden into meaning only one very specific thing, or expand to embrace a range of meanings.

Take the word weird, as in Weird Al Yankovic, the man who has had such fun parodying Pharrell of late. When first used, that word meant “having the power to control the fate or destiny of human beings.” And that is certainly not the meaning we invoke when referring to Mr. Yankovic.

A good rule of thumb for now at least: if you would use the words boo or babe in some circumstance, you can probably use bae.

TIME Culture

How The World Has Changed Since 1850 in 11 Charts

A woman reads the first page of the New York Times of Aril 1, 1968, when the headlines declared : "Johnson Says He Won't Run; Will Halt Bombing in North". This referred to President Johnson's refusal to accept or seek renomination.
A woman reads the first page of the New York Times of Aril 1, 1968, when the headlines declared : "Johnson Says He Won't Run; Will Halt Bombing in North". This referred to President Johnson's refusal to accept or seek renomination. Bettmann/CORBIS

Okay, technichally it's all in one chart-making machine made public on Wednesday by the New York Times

The language that journalists use tells us a lot more than what happened today—there is also a subtext about which topics people want to read about, who is considered noteworthy. Changes in that subtext over time reflect changes in our perception of the world.

A notion like that might sound all nebulous and soppy without hard numbers to back it up. Luckily, we have something even better than numbers: colorful charts! On Wednesday, the New York Times made public a tool that their editors have been hoarding among themselves since 2012. Called Chronicle, the machine allows users to search for and compare how often certain terms have appeared in their coverage between about 1850 and 2012.

Take, for instance, this telling demonstration of how much that media outlet has valued news related to women, compared to men, over time:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 12.50.17 PM

Or take a gander at the amount of times writers have felt need to use the word computer, as opposed to farmer:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 1.49.32 PM

Consider a concept like a mother or woman who is married and does not work. The way we’ve referred to this class of people, responding to insinuations of value or being de-valued, has also shifted:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 12.38.54 PM

Then there are topics that we’ve come to care about that didn’t matter or didn’t even exist as concepts in previous decades, some related to the environment:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.01.06 PM

Some related to gender:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 12.39.42 PM

Some related to disease:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.05.09 PM

Some related to our bodies:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.14.04 PM And some related to how we transport those bodies:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.17.00 PM

The charts can tell us about how slang has evolved:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.10.12 PMAnd what conflicts we’ve lived through, as well as how much relative attention we paid to them:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.18.32 PM

You can even ask the machine philosophical questions, like whether people tend to care more when something starts or finishes. The answer might not be definitive, but you will at least find yourself presented with a lovely new visual aid:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.21.35 PM

This is an edition of Wednesday Words, a weekly feature on language. For the previous post, click here.

TIME cities

San Francisco Will Vote On Soda Tax in November

San Francisco Board Of Supervisors Proposes Putting Soda Tax On Nov. Ballot
Various bottles of soda are displayed in a cooler at Marina Supermarket on July 22, 2014 in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The city could be the first in the nation to tax the sugary drinks

San Francisco lawmakers voted Tuesday to advance a proposal to tax sugary sodas. If voters approve the measure in November, the tax will become the first of its kind in the nation.

“In San Francisco, we set examples,” said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. “We have a responsibility to try new things and fight the fight and see where this goes.”

The lawmakers agreed that the city would be better off if residents consumed fewer sugary beverages, which have been linked to obesity and diabetes. But the 6-4 vote reflected the divide over whether a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on soda is the best way to promote healthier habits.

Proponents of the measure argued that education alone is not enough and that a financial signal would better get the message across. Critics said that a “regressive flat tax” could end up passing costs onto low-income consumers who disproportionately purchase soda, without curbing soda intake. “This is being forced down people’s throats,” says Supervisor London Breed, who voted against the measure.

A Field Research poll released in February found that 67% of California voters would approve such a tax if the revenue is earmarked for healthy initiatives, as it is in the San Francisco proposal. An analysis from a city economist estimated that the tax would curb soda intake in the city by 31%. Under the measure, a bottle of soda that sells for $1.60 now would cost $2.

To become law, the initiative will have to be approved by two-thirds of voters and withstand strong opposition from deep-pocketed organizations like the American Beverage Association. Such “Big Soda” lobbyists have spent millions defeating soda tax measures in Congress and at least a dozen states. In 2012, soda tax measures in the California towns of El Monte and Richmond failed by wide margins.

Earlier this month, Berkeley lawmakers voted to put a one-cent-per-ounce soda tax before voters there in November.

TIME

TIME Exclusive: Here Are Rules of Using Emoji You Didn’t Know You Were Following

A computational linguist reveals that there are patterns to our madness

There may not be anyone who knows more about emoticons than Tyler Schnoebelen, a man who literally wrote his Stanford doctorate thesis on the subject. He found, for instance, that older people tend to use emoticons with noses, such as [:-)], while younger people are more likely to drop the proboscis. He discovered that roughly 10% of all tweets contain an emoticon. And he observed that the phrase f*** you rarely appears with an emoticon, because those playful little symbols can trivialize feelings like totally hating someone’s guts.

Now an analyst at natural language processing firm Idibon, Schnoebelen has turned his attention to emoticons’ hip young cousins: emoji.

(MORE: The Emoji’s Strange Power)

Disclaimer: There is no instructional grammar primer on how one must use the little graphic symbols known as emoji. And if someone were to write such a work, it would likely be obsolete before it got off the printing press. People are still experimenting with the images, and you might use emoji unlike anyone else on this big ole planet.

That said, there are a few general rules you might not even know you’re following, which Schnoebelen has sussed out analyzing roughly 500,000 sequences of tweets.

Emoji tend to come at the end of messages.

You are much more likely to find this on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.29.59 PM

Than this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.31.12 PM

Even when emoji appear in the middle of tweets, they often come between complete thoughts, like this:

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They act like punctuation, providing cues about how to understand the words that came before them, as an exclamation point might. Emoji typically add to ideas rather than replace words. “They carry with them a fog of meaning. You can’t exactly pin down what any particular emoji means,” Schnoebelen says. “It’s not a story of simplicity, it’s a story of enrichment.”

Emoji users respect linear time and action.

If you want to point a gun at something, it has to go to the left of the barrel, he says.

It is this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 12.53.18 PM

Not this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 12.18.15 PM

And if one is telling a love story, as artist John Michael Boling does in this music video for electronica group Oneohtrix Point Never, that narrative goes like this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 12.22.57 PM

Not just in some jumble like this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.07.53 PM

A different order could convey an entirely different idea or story, when we’re used to reading our narratives from left to right. Schnoebelen found that when people are putting together sequences of Christmas tweets, the gifts almost always come after Santa and the tree, because Santa has to bring the gifts before they can appear.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.11.34 PM

In sets of two or three emoji, the stance comes before actions or other signals.

The face comes first. Consider “stance” the attitude or emotion you have about something, represented by a happy, sad or flirty yellow face. Schnoebelen found that tweeters make their stance clear right off the bat and then let the attitude displayed by that face help shade the interpretation of the emoji that follow. They are a “key” established at the outset, a bit like G major or C minor.

He found that this order, for instance:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.16.35 PM

Is far more common than this order:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.17.32 PM

He found that people weep and then have a broken heart:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.21.05 PM

Not the other way around:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.22.12 PM

The “stance first” rule may come from emoji and emoticons’ most potent power: conveying the sincerity or politeness or teasing that are so much harder to convey through text alone than through speech, body language and voice cues. “One of the main problems with text communication is that it’s just different from how we’ve talked to each other for most of the existence of language,” Schnoebelen says. “We’re dry in terms of the cues we get to use to signal exactly what we mean, to give nuance to the meaning,” he says. “Emoticons and emoji provide this nice shorthand.”

This is an edition of Wednesday Words, a weekly feature on language. For the previous post, click here.

TIME Environment

California Imposes Unprecedented Water Conservation Rules

California Dought Water Fines
A sprinkler system sprays water onto a parked car along the curb in Glendale, Calif., Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Matt Hamilton—AP

New statewide rules target wasteful usage of water in urban settings

California authorities voted Tuesday to put unprecedented, across-the-board emergency regulations in place that will levy fines for wasteful behavior. Activities like using a hose to wash a car without a shut-off nozzle or using drinkable water in certain decorative water features will be banned, while infractions will carry fines of up to $500.

The State Water Resources Control Board also emphasized that reservoirs and rainfall levels remain “critically low,” and communities may risk running out of drinking water as nearly 80% of the state is now experiencing an extreme drought. The conditions have also led to more wildfires and damage to animals’ habitats.

“Outdoor water waste is unacceptable in a time of drought,” Board Chair Felicia Marcus tells TIME. “We don’t know when it’s going to rain again. … This is a dramatic action, but these are dramatic times.”

The vote comes just months after California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in January, marking what may become the state’s worst drought in centuries. Despite Brown’s call for residents to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20%, the state’s water consumption has actually gone up compared to previous years.

What is now a three-year drought has taken a serious toll on Central Valley farmers, who have been forced to leave thousands of acres dormant and lay off thousands of employees. Such rural residents, Marcus says, have already been strictly rationing water, and now it’s time for those who live in cities to step up. “The prohibitions are on water waste. It’s not telling people they can’t have a lawn,” she says. Urban residents, she says, are “not seeing the fallowed fields. That shouldn’t help them sleep too much more easily at night.”

The temporary regulations, which go into place around Aug. 1, also prohibit watering outdoor landscapes generously enough to create runoff onto surfaces like sidewalks or roadways, as well as using water to clean residential driveways or walkways. They place restrictions on urban water suppliers, limiting outdoor irrigation and requiring progress reports. According to the Board, 50% or more of daily water use goes into lawns and landscapes in some areas of the state.

At a Tuesday hearing, individuals from around the state spoke before a Board meeting in Sacramento. A few called the regulations “heavy-handed” government overreach, while others arguing that the emergency measures don’t go far enough given the severity of the drought. After hours of testimony, most seeking clarity about how exceptions might work and how to enforce the regulations, the Board voted 4-0 to approve the measure.

Marcus says these regulations will help send a message about how serious the situation is. She also said they are a “modest” form of conservation that needs to go in place now in order to preserve water for the future. “We were hoping for more voluntary conservation, and that’s the bottom line,” she says. “We hope this will get people’s attention.”

And if the drought gets worse, more mandatory regulations are not out of the question. The state’s Office of Administrative Law still has to approve the package of rules, which is expected in the next two weeks.

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