Fines of up to $500 for water wasters in California
In the more affluent areas of California, the manicured gardens are still lush and green, fountains still flow and Bentleys still sparkle after their morning wash.
There is little to suggest that the Golden State is experiencing its worst drought for a century.
Despite desperate pleas from politicians to conserve water, lawns are being lavished like never before and consumption of the state's most precious commodity has actually increased over the past year.
Now, in an unprecedented step, California is introducing fines of up to $500 (€369) a day for citizens deemed to be wasting water.
Starting next month, spot checks will be carried out and fines imposed for profligate offences such as washing a vehicle using a hose without a nozzle, watering lawns to the extent that water runs on to the pavement, washing driveways or patios, and having fountains that do not recirculate.
In January, Jerry Brown, the California governor, called for a state-wide 20pc reduction in water use amid the "worst drought we have ever seen," which has already lasted three years. But he was roundly ignored and consumption has risen by 1pc over the past year.
Felicia Marcus, the chairman of the State Water Quality Control Board, said that residents were still not fully aware of the seriousness of the drought and fining them was a historic step. (©Daily Telegraph, London)