As weather data showed the severity of the state’s drought expanding Thursday, water officials unveiled a cartoon mascot called “Lawn Dude” meant to remind residents to restrict their water usage amid strict new regulations.
Digital billboards were activated across Southern California featuring the little green blob character, which apparently speaks in the voice of a residential grass lawn.
“Don’t hose me man!” one billboard states; another proclaims, “I only drink 2 days a week.”
The public service campaign from the nonprofit Southern California Water Committee comes amid an ongoing and historic drought.
Data released Thursday showed about 58 percent of California was in “exceptional” drought, the worst category, up from about 36 percent just a week earlier. The entire state was in “severe” drought at a minimum, as it has been since mid-May.
At the beginning of 2014, no part of the state was considered in “exceptional” drought by the National Drought Mitigation Center.
Meanwhile, statewide emergency drought regulations went into this week with a focus on limits to urban outdoor water use.
The regulations require Californians to stop the following activities:
- washing down driveways and sidewalks;
- watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff;
- using a hose to wash a motor vehicle unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle; and
- using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature unless the water is recirculated.
Violators could face fines of up to $500 per day.
Lawn Dude and his billboard — and Twitter — campaign is intended to raise awareness about those new restrictions.
“What we’re asking is that people take these regulations seriously and that they help us get the word out,” said Fran Spivy-Weber of the State Water Resources Control Board, which approved the regulations July 15.