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California insanity: Homeowners shamed for green lawns; fined for brown lawns

Drought shaming

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(NaturalNews) Not only are Californians suffering from an intense drought, but they're being shamed by their neighbors and fined by the city, that is if they're caught violating tough water restrictions mandated by the state.

According to a report by International Business Times, a crippling drought affecting 80 percent of the state has turned some residents into tattletales, coining the term "drought shaming."

Just in Sacramento, authorities say they've received nearly 10,000 phone calls "drought shaming" people for misusing the state's shrinking water supply, reporting acts like filling up swimming pools, watering lawns or washing cars.

As if having someone tattle on you isn't bad enough (the city can slap you with a fine up to $500/day by the way), the allegations are being posted publicly on social media sites, bringing shaming to a whole new level, a worldwide level in fact.

One Twitter user wrote:

"Anyone have info where to report water over usage? Seeing automatic sprinklers water the driveway of my apt pisses me off #droughtshaming" -- Angel (@menkhare) July 18, 2014.

Luckily for this Twitter user, reporting someone for misusing water can be done easily by calling one of the water utility hotlines where they can anonymously snitch on their neighbor.

Terrance Davis, a sustainability manager for Sacramento's Utilities Department, said the first call results in a member of his staff going out to investigate, and then educating the customer, and "if necessary we will issue a violation."

A second violation requires you to attend a special workshop, where you'll be further educated on the matter, similar to when Texans take defensive driving to prevent traffic tickets from showing up on records.

Fines begin to mount with third and fourth violations, with the latter carrying a $1,000 fine. "We don't have very many residents who get to that point, but it is there as a tool if we need for enforcement," Davis said.

Davis, nicknamed "the Drought Czar," said he's "pleasantly surprised" by the number of people tattling on their neighbors, adding that he's also "very happy and appreciative."

In his eyes, turning in your neighbors means you're getting the message that water conservation is serious, not something to joke about.

However, unfortunately, snitching on your neighbor isn't just about true concern for the environment but also about a chance to get back at someone you may not like very much.

One Twitter user took the "#droughtshaming" opportunity to do just that when he wrote:

"I'm bouts to turn in that neighbor I don't like #DroughtShaming #California" -- Tony Savo (@statecyde) July 14, 2014.

Brown lawns win

One California resident said it's not about whose lawn is greener, but whose is browner, according to a report by KMAX-TV. Pam Ferko, who lives in Sacramento, said pressure from her neighbors not to use water has her "sneaking around," trying to escape judgment.

"I think my husband has been guilty of coming out late at night and doing a little secretive watering underneath the trees," she said.

Texas city issues steep fines for grass too tall

Meanwhile, residents in the west central Texas town of Abilene are being threatened with Class C misdemeanors for letting their grass grow too long, a charge that carries up to a $500 fine, as reported by KTXS News 12.

Beginning the week of July 22-26, the city will be enforcing a "zero-tolerance" policy. If home owners ignore the city's notifications about their grass being too long, officers can send a contractor to mow the lawn and then bill the owners $150 for the services, plus hit them with a penalty.

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