Californians are "drought-shaming" water-wasting neighbors

Snitching on your neighbor: Californians use ... 02:12

California's drought is so severe, residents could soon face $500 fines for wasting water. That's given rise to a new phenomenon known as "drought shaming," which has residents snitching on their neighbors, CBS News correspondent Carter Evans reports.

In drought-stricken California, brown is the new green for lawns at the state capital in Sacramento, and the hotline to report water wasters is flooded with calls.

"Hi, I'd like to report a neighbor that has water running strong enough that it is making a puddle on the sidewalk," said one caller.

So far this year, the number of complaints to the Sacramento Department of Utilities has skyrocketed to more than 10,000, up from about 700 at the same time last year.

"Obliviously, we can't see everything, can't be everywhere, so having people in the community helping us out -- residents, neighbors reporting those types of things -- is a great tool for us too," said Terrance Davis, a utilities department maanager.

People are also tattling on twitter. Under #droughtshaming are pictures of the precious resource going down the drain. Mike Barnum wrote: "way to hose down your entire sidewalk...twice."

Ming Wang posted a photo to social media after he spotted sprinklers running for hours last Saturday, flooding a Southern California school field.

"It looked like there was a mud pit in the middle of that field," Wang said. "You could basically swim in it, basically. It was pooling to the point I got very concerned."

Several California cities are planning to hire more so-called "water cops" to respond to all the complaints. Starting August 1, water wasters can be fined up $500 a day, but the cost down the road could be much greater.

"I don't know what they're doing, but it's the most wasteful water usage I have ever seen," said one 'snitch' hotline caller. "I just want to try and save some water for my child in the future."