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Officials OK New Water Conservation Measures

LOS ANGELES ( — State water officials Tuesday voted in favor of new changes for water usage as California heads into a fourth drought year.

Under the new restrictions approved by the State Water Resources Control Board, patrons of Southland restaurants and eateries across the state will soon have to request a glass of water, while hotel guests will be able to re-use linens and towels instead of having them washed daily.

Board members also moved to mandate restrictions on watering yards and landscapes, although most local water agencies already have such restrictions in place.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) customers are already restricted to irrigating their yards up to three days a week.

Felicia Marcus, chair of the California State Water Resources Control Board, told KNX 1070's Margaret Carrero the board has used feedback from the general public to formulate the new proposals before the original restrictions expire in April.

"We're adding some things in like hospitality regulations that restaurants can't give you water unless you ask, that hotels and motels need to give you the option to not have your sheets and towels washed every day," said Marcus.

Under the new rules, watering lawns would be capped at twice a week for those districts who do not yet have limits in place, according to Marcus.

The new rules would expand the twice-weekly watering cap to some districts that don't have it.

Last summer, the board already barred Californians from washing down driveways or cleaning cars with hoses that do not have shut-off nozzles. These restrictions are backed up with the threat of $500 fines, which few agencies have imposed.

The regulations also call for local water departments to report how they are enforcing rules, but Marcus conceded the agency is still trying to find the best way forward to make sure the measures are being taken.

"Enforcement doesn't mean just fines...the key issue is not a fine, the key issue is that the agency is out there in relationship and communicating with consumers, giving them the information they know," she said.

The state's reservoirs are going dry as winter ends without significant storms.

The vote comes as the the Metropolitan Water District announced plans to indefinitely suspend private boat launches at the region's largest reservoir because of low lake levels.

Starting in mid-April, water levels at Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet in southwest Riverside County are projected to reach the end of the boat ramp at the reservoir's East Marina by mid-April, according to Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger.

"This action speaks volumes about the seriousness of the water-supply situation Southern California faces now and next year. That's why continued conservation is so essential," said Kightlinger.

The lake will remain open to fishing from shoreline, rental boats, officials said.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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