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Brown's Water Fine Proposal Questioned

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Gov. Jerry Brown announces proposed legislation that would give more authority to local water agencies last week at the state Capitol.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California Gov. Jerry Brown wants to give local water agencies new authority to fine water wasters during the drought. That’s raising some concerns about possible government overreach.

The governor’s proposal would deputize local water agency employees to issue fines of up to $10,000 that don’t go through the court system.

Republican state Sen. Jim Nielsen says that would create “water police” – and accuses Brown of “exploiting this emergency circumstance to a permanent empowerment of government and to the diminished ability of citizens to respond.”

But the Brown administration says the new system would only be allowed during a drought – and people fined would have a chance to defend themselves.

“We need to do everything we can as a state to conserve, and local agencies need as many tools in their toolbox as possible,” says State Water Resources Control Board chief counsel Michael Lauffer.

The governor’s proposal requires legislative approval – which would likely come in mid-June as part of the state budget process.

 drought

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio