As Drought Worsens, California Restaurants and Bars Are Banned From Serving Water Without Customer Request

The regulation is expected to go into effect by May, though a number of restaurants have already begun participating

Flickr/cipher/CC 4.0

Water conservation specialists continue to push for even more stringent rules. (Photo Modified: Flicker/cipher/CC 4.0)

Drought conditions in California have pushed the state’s water supply to the brink, to the point that its reservoirs have approximately one year of water left, according to NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti.

This week, California’s State Water Resources Control Board announced a series of new regulations to help relieve the pressure on what precious little water remains.

Among the new restrictions is one that directly affects the state’s restaurant industry. After the regulations pass through a review process by late April or early May, restaurants and bars will be prohibited from serving water before it is requested by a customer. The regulations are expected to run for a 270-day emergency period, though a number of those rules may become permanent.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a number of restaurants have already posted signs informing patrons that water will no longer be automatically served. Aside from helping to save water usage wherever possible, the ban is meant to raise greater awareness of the dire need for conservation.

If broken, the regulations carry fines up to $500, again meant to illustrate the gravity of the situation, as California faces a fourth year of drought.

“We are not seeing the stepping up and the ringing of alarm bells that the situation warrants,” Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, told the San Francisco Chronicle. 

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