California is battling the worst drought in four decades. It's been five months since it was declared, and in the midst of high consumption, water regulators approved a $500 fine for residents who waste water on landscaping or washing their car. Now, neighborhood vigilantes are taking efforts to the next level with social media drought shaming. With the newly instated fine, the neighbor policing through #droughtshaming on Twitter goes beyond just embarrassing water wasters.
The Twitter conversation around the hashtag reveals an ideological split on whether it's the responsibility of neighbors to keep an eye out for violators, or if everyone should mind their own business. Still, it seems that officials are supporting the state-wide neighborhood watch. “Obviously we can’t see everything, can’t be everywhere so having people in the community helping us out—residents, neighbors—reporting those types of things is a great tool for us too,” Terrance Davis, a Sacramento city department of utilities employee, told the local CBS affiliate.But no matter which side you fall on in the debate, the shaming may be having some effect. The city of Sacramento reported a 17 percent cut in its water usage last month.
The drought shaming extends outside of social media, too. Even the Capitol grounds in Sacramento have taken part, posting a sign on its withered lawn pledging support for water conservation.
Davis also said that Sacramento has seen huge growth in complaints in the last two years. From January to June, the city has received 8,000 calls to its water-complaint line.