California’s water bureaucracy has approved penalties against the hydro-criminals among us who do things like wash sidewalks and dump too much water on our lawns. Penalties could be as much as $500 per offense. It remains to be seen how the scores and scores of water agencies that will need to enforce the new rules will actually do it, though. If San Francisco and its massive Hetch Hetchy system are any indication, our new water cops will hand out warnings before trying to impose fines.

But both the state and the city are also going to try a softer, pop culture-based approach to winning over the water-wasting public.

Save Our Water, a joint project of the state Department of Water Resources and the Association of California Water Agencies, has signed up Lady Gaga to pitch water conservation. I don’t know much about Lady Gaga, but her message (in the video above) is a pretty simple one: She recently learned on a visit to Hearst Castle that we need to conserve water. So do it.

The San Francisco Public Utilties Commission takes a different tack: Using a Barry White sound-alike, it promotes the notion that water conservation is sexy. Here’s a sample:


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at

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