When we lived in San Francisco during my surgery training, we went through a time of city-wide water restrictions. As I remember, it started out voluntary, and we did all the recommended things: quick showers (ours was too small for the together thing), reusing "grey water" to water a few plants, following the "yellow is mellow, brown goes down" rule. When it became mandatory that people cut their use by some percent or other, we worried that since we'd already done it we might be penalized based on our reduced use. I don't recall that that happened.
So now it's way worse in California, and Jerry Brown has ordered rationing statewide. Charles P Pierce has a few things to say about it and, as usual, I agree:
.... I have no idea what will happen if water, fully commodified, becomes the new oil. (And that process already is underway in a lot of places, including here.) But one thing that will make that phenomenon immeasurably worse would be if the conservation-vs.-consumption argument frames the policy alternatives. If it devolves to the point where the unlimited ability to water your lawn, or to build your new golf course, becomes the same kind of battle for "freedom" that owning an SUV has become in relation to climate change and the dwindling supply of fossil fuels. This is too important an issue to be handled by the engineered infantilism of our political culture.This is yet another example of how the devolution of our political system into uselessness, by way of childish gamesmanship and selfish denialism, will have long-lasting effects. And whereas liberals might have to make some compromises when it comes to fish, I'd say it's conservatives and their refusal to address climate change, and their pathetic insistence that the only money we spend will be to build more tanks and useless aircraft, that will bear the blame of history. Assuming history doesn't stop.