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Despite drought, California couple in trouble for not watering lawn

Michael and Laura Korte felt they were answering Gov. Jerry Brown's urgent call to turn off the tap
California couple threatened with fine for under-watering lawn 01:27

GLENDORA, Calif. - More than 80 percent of the state of California is in a drought labeled as "extreme" by the U.S. Drought Monitor map.

Residents have been asked to cut back on their water usage. But not everyone is getting the message.

"I lived here for almost 30 years and I've never seen it this bad and it's getting worse and worse and I think everyone should be doing something about it," said Michael Korte.

Michael and Laura Korte say they want to conserve water because there's a drought, but the city where they live is threatening to fine them for not watering their lawn. CBS News

Michael and Laura Korte felt they were answering Gov. Jerry Brown's urgent call to turn off the tap.

"Everyone should try to save at least 20 percent of their water use. All the people of California," Brown has said.

So now, the grounds outside the state Capitol building are turning brown. So is the Kortes' lawn.

On Tuesday, the same day California officials authorized fines of up to $500 for over-watering, the Kortes got a letter from the city of Glendora.

"It said you have 60 days to get your lawn looking like this or else," said Laura.

"And the penalty was fines of $100 to $500 and criminal prosecution, whatever that means," said Michael.

Michael and Laura Korte say they received a notice from the city of Glendora, threatening them with fines because they haven't been watering their lawn during a severe drought. CBS News

Yes, a $500 fine for under-watering.

"It's kind of crazy, considering the state of the state," said Michael.

"Yeah, it goes against common sense," said Laura.

The city appears to have watered down its threat. City officials referred CBS News to their website, where a similar-looking notice appeared, making no mention of a fine but asking instead for voluntary compliance.

The Kortes aren't sure what happens next.

"It just seems like we're in the middle of a rock and a hard place right now," said Laura.

"She's more confused. I'm a little more angry, I think," said Michael.

"It was just so strange," said Laura. "It was like being in an alternate reality."

"Yeah, it was like bizarre world," agreed Michael. "It was very strange."

That's the dilemma facing California: Water so readily available, and yet so scarce.

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