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 is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

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