AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Texans face a record-breaking scorcher of a summer and some local municipalities adopt additional water conservation efforts, it begged the question: Who controls and enforces water conservation staging, requirements and penalties for violations, and how does it differ from other drought-prone states?

Here in Texas, all water conservation rules, staging and violation penalties are decided at the local level by individual municipalities, a spokesperson for the Texas Water Development Board told KXAN Tuesday. That’s why some staging metrics and requirements can vary by community, as well as violation fines.

This contrasts with states like California that have state-level enforcements in addition to additional requirements from local jurisdictions.

California’s State Water Resources Control Board adopted two emergency regulation measures in 2022 that “prohibit certain wasteful water use practices statewide.” The regulations encourage residents monitor water use while “building habits to use water wisely and make conservation a way of life.”

At the California state level, prohibitions include outdoor watering within 48 hours after at least a quarter inch of rainfall; watering non-functional lawns in commercial, industrial and HOA common areas; and washing hard services like driveways or sidewalks that don’t absorb water.

All of the aforementioned prohibitions are classified as violations and are punishable by a fine of up to $500 per day, according to the SWRCB.

The SWRCB’s regulations are supplementary to local municipalities, which might enforce different or more stringent requirements. Californians are required to abide by both state and local requirements.

Here in Texas, while municipalities adopt specific water conservation staging levels, requirements and violation fines, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approves municipalities’ drought contingency plans. The TCEQ updates its list of public water systems implementing restrictions on a weekly basis.

In Texas’ capital city, Austin Water has received 907 reports of conservation violations since the city implemented Stage 1 drought restrictions June 6. Of those 907 reported incidents, Austin Water conservation staff have issued 303 warning notices of violations.

For violators who ignore these notices and are fined, first-time violators will be fined between $50 and $200. Those racking up second violations will see a fine increase, between $75 to $300 range.

Third-time offenders are charged between $250 and $500, while four-time or subsequent violators will be charged between $400 and $800 per each additional violation.