Want Water With Your Meal? Now You'll Have to Ask for It

Want Water With Your Meal? Now You'll Have to Ask for It
Fotopedia/Henry Stewart

You'll soon have to speak up when you're parched at an L.A. restaurant. State officials voted Tuesday to prohibit food service establishments from serving water to customers unless requested. 

As much as L.A.'s unseasonably warm March weather makes for great humblebrags to your East Coast friends, the heat is a chilling reminder that rainy season is nearly over and we are nowhere near undoing the last four years of unprecedented, historic drought.

With talks of dry years becoming the "new normal" in California, the California State Water Resources Control Board approved drastic expansions to emergency regulations on potable (aka drinkable) water use. This is on top of the 2014 grounds-watering limitations imposed on property owners.

The new restrictions are set to go into effect in late April or early May and last for 270 days unless renewed. In addition to restaurants only serving water upon request, hotels must now provide guests with the option of choosing not to have their linens laundered daily.

“We are experiencing the lowest snowpack and the driest January in recorded history, and communities around the state are already suffering severely from the prior three years of drought,” State Water Board chair Felicia Marcus said in a press release. “If the drought continues through next winter and we do not conserve more — the consequences could be even more catastrophic than they already are. Today’s action is just a tune-up and a reminder to act, and we will consider more significant actions in the weeks to come.”

Cities including Malibu and water districts like Palmdale's already have restrictions in place that prevent restaurants from serving water as a default.

According to the State Water Board, local agencies can fine individual property owners up to $500 a day for doing things such as watering a lawn within 48 hours of rainfall or washing a car without a shut-off nozzle. The board has not yet indicated whether it will enact similar penalties for restaurants that serve unrequested water.


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