LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Hit by a severe drought for the third year in a row, Los Angeles and San Diego on Monday imposed tough restrictions on the use of tap water, local officials said.
Los Angeles, the second largest city in the United States with four million residents, hiked prices to encourage users to cut their consumption by 15 percent.
Watering lawns will now only be allowed on Mondays and Thursdays, tightening an earlier ban on watering gardens between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm.
Local officials will patrol the area and those caught flouting the ban could face fines of up to 600 dollars.
In San Diego, some 200 kilometers (120 miles) further south, gardens may only be watered three days a week and only for 10 minutes at a time. Fines for breaking the rules could stretch to 1,000 dollars in the city of 1.3 million residents.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared an emergency in his state at the end of February as it was hit by a drought for the third year running.
Spring and summer 2008 were the driest on record in California with 76 percent less rainfall than usual. But precipitation levels have dropped even further since the start of 2009.
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