​California communities feel pressure to conserve water

California community aims to live with less w... 02:22

LOS ANGELES -- A new report reveals California homeowners cut their water use by less than three percent in February, not even close to a new mandate from Governor Jerry Brown to cut consumption by 25 percent. The restrictions were issued in response to a severe drought that is likely to extend into next year.

In one Mariposa County community, house boats that should be floating sit on dry land. Collapsed train trestles -- underwater for 50 years -- are visible again.

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Collapsed train trestles, hidden for 50 years, are visible again as California's drought continues to shrink Lake McClure in Mariposa County, Calif. CBS News

The area's main water source, Lake McClure, is down to just nine percent of capacity.

"As this reservoir continues to drop, we may get to the point that where there is no water to release," said John Sweigard, manager of the Merced Irrigation District. "That's a very scary proposition, and it's also a proposition that is staring us straight in the eye."

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Sally Punte carries a bucket of water from her bathtub to pour on her garden CBS News

In December, residents were ordered to cut water use by 30 percent. It wasn't enough. Now homeowners like Sally Punte must cut consumption by half.

Punte says she hopes she's doing enough and thinks twice before pouring any water out.

She doesn't even empty her bathtub; she collects the used water in a bucket the city gave her and pours it on what's left of her garden. Punte called the drought's impact "devastating."

On Tuesday, the state's water board began hammering out strict new measures to try to get Californians to conserve 25 percent more water.

The new rules may take months to craft, but David Klein isn't waiting. He's installed a smart meter outside his Long Beach home which calculates his family's water use every five minutes.

"We're just trying to do as much as we can do in our little home to make a difference," said Klein.

Residents who over-consume may be penalized with steep fines and water bill surcharges. The board will vote on enforcement measures next month.