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California Restaurants and Bars Now Prohibited From Serving Water Sans Request

Parched? You'll need to speak up.


In case you weren't aware, the water situation in California is getting pretty damn serious—as in, we-might-run-out-within-a-year serious. Today, the State Water Resources Control Board announced sweeping new regulations in an attempt to help alleviate the ongoing drought, and one of them will hit very close to home for diners: restaurants and bars in the state are now no longer permitted to serve water automatically, but only if a customer requests it. It's a philosophy that's already being espoused by a number of spots around the state (as well as the entire city of Santa Cruz), but this codifies it—and means some consumers will inevitably be a bit confused.

The service industry isn't the only arena impacted by the new law: hotels are now required to ask guests before laundering linens, everyone is prohibited from watering gardens within two days of rain, and water agencies are now required to inform customers when leaks are detected on their property. The regulations take effect in late April or early May (pending a procedural review), and could come with fines of up to $500. So start getting ready to speak up when you need to quench your thirst.