With farmers across California already facing severe cuts in irrigation supplies, state officials are now imposing additional aggressive conservation measures for urban consumers and local water agencies across the state. Emergency regulations, adopted May 24 by the California State Water Resources Control Board, are now targeting California cities and communities and the state's nonagricultural landscapes.

The regulations will require local agencies to impose restrictions on water use that can be sufficient to make up for potential 20% shortfalls in water supplies anticipated for the summer months. That means no irrigation for municipal greenbelts. Watering lawns and turf at commercial or industrial buildings is now banned, meaning that lush green spaces at the Golden State's popular tourist hotels or sprawling business parks will have to go brown.

California homeowners still watering their tropical landscaping and ornamental plants may run into trouble from their local water districts and face potential fines. "It means that we're all in this together," said California Farm Bureau Senior Counsel Chris Scheuring, who specializes in water issues. "Urban conservation is a different species of conservation than agricultural conservation. In some cases, it is a little easier for urban folks to cut back, maybe even drastically, without affecting their lifestyles and livelihoods."

Gov. Gavin Newsom applauded the actions of state water officials. "California is facing a drought crisis, and every local water agency and Californian needs to step up on conservation efforts," Newsom said in a statement. "I am hopeful the measures enacted by the State Water Board will lead to a reduction of water use across the state. These conservation measures are increasingly important as we enter the summer months. I'm asking all Californians to step up because every single drop counts."

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