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What drought? Beverly Hills still hosing down driveways

When California's governor ordered the state's first mandatory water restrictions last week, many people started making plans to remove their lawns
In some wealthy areas, California's drought goes unnoticed 01:56

California homeowners are under strict new orders to reduce water use due to the drought. Many are taking drastic measures like removing their grass, but the mandate seems to have gone unnoticed in some famously rich communities.

Living the California dream takes a lot of money. It also takes a lot of water. An UCLA study found wealthy neighborhoods use three times more water than other Southern California cities.

"We found that overall about 50 percent, if not more, of water, is used on outdoor irrigation," said Dr. Stephanie Pincetl, who conducted the study. "Bigger house, bigger lawn, more water use -- more water, and they can afford it."

Right now, Beverly Hills does not ticket water wasters. Residents have only been asked to turn off decorative fountains and stop hosing down driveways "voluntarily," measures that don't get them close to the new state-wide mandate of a 25-percent reduction.

But Beverly Hills may soon look very different. The city is planning to cut private consumption through strict enforcement.

Rick Silva, who patrols wealthy neighborhoods for the Department of Water and Power, said he generally finds homeowners unmoved by the drought problem.

"In the future, when we start reducing the days, that leaves more days when no one is allowed to irrigate and enforcement gets a lot easier," Silva said. "And we get the message out more because there are going to be more violations written up."

In Orange County, the well-heeled are making their own concessions to the new normal. For example, some are using scuba divers to fix cracks and leaks in their pools, so they don't have to drain the water first.

Doug Beard, who owns Royal Pool Service, said there is often "20,000-30,000 thousand gallons of water that's just getting wasted to do a repair."

But the water shortage is an issue money alone can't solve.

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