MURRIETA (CBSLA.com) — The state of California has made it a crime to waste water.
The fine? A steep $500.
Water wasters could soon feel the heat, and the intensity could be felt up close, like next-door close.
One California city has adopted a new hotline where neighbors can report on neighbors who aren't following drought-restriction guidelines.
KCAL9's Tom Wait went to Murrieta and talked to neighbors on both sides of the argument.
His report began of an audiotape of one woman calling out her neighbor.
"Hi, Carla," said the caller. "I want to report a house that is trying to drain the rest of the American River."
The drought is pitting neighbor against neighbor, Wait reported.
The call continued.
"Their water is on right now. It's probably 4 feet of gutter-filling water. I mean, I don't know what they're doing, but it's the most wasteful water usage I've ever seen."
The calls to the hotline can be anonymous.
Translation: A local district water employee shows up at your home to check on your water usage, and you may never know who tattled.
In one call, the operator asks if the caller would like to leave their name and number.
"Not really," the caller says. "I'm the neighbor."
The hotline in question is based in Sacramento, but a similar snitch line could soon become a reality in Southern California. So, the question is, would you tattle on your neighbor?
"I think we need to keep an eye on each other and take care of what's going on," said Bryan Boos. "The water is the water."
He's OK with the tattletale approach.
"I'm OK with calling in," he said. "People call in if a neighbor isn't taking care of their yard."
As Wait and those neighbors remind, there are now eyes and ears everywhere.
Another caller opined to the hotline: "Yes, I'm being a tattletale. And I'm calling because my neighbor is driving me crazy. He waters in the middle of the night, and we keep our bedroom windows open and do the sprinklers wake me up."
The operator asked, "Anything we can do for you?"
The caller replied, "That is it. I just want to save some water for my child in the future."
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