Descanso Gardens gardening class

Descanso Gardens director of horticulture and garden operations Rachel Young, center, talks about drought-tolerant plants during the water-wise gardening class for its Get Dirty series, in La Cañada Flintridge on Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / July 17, 2014)

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On Tuesday, Descanso Gardens offered the public a free water-wise gardening class and demonstration as part of its ongoing “Get Dirty” series, which included a tour of low-water plants on the garden property.

The lesson on how to conserve water in an extreme period of drought couldn’t have come at a better time. That same day, California’s State Water Resources Control Board adopted statewide drought regulations that allow agencies to impose up to $500 per day on residents who waste water.

The emergency rules, which will begin in August, direct agencies to be on the lookout for wasteful behavior — washing cars with a hose, spraying down driveways and sidewalks and sprinkler runoff.

In La Cañada, water-agency officials have been relying on voluntary conservation efforts. Daniel Drugan, a water-program technician for Foothill Municipal Water District, said Wednesday that while the district respected the board’s decision and Gov. Jerry Brown’s January mandate that Californians conserve water by 20%, it would not actively seek to fine individuals served by its member agencies. In this city, those agencies are Valley Water Co., La Cañada Irrigation District, Mesa Crest Water Co. and the Crescenta Valley Water District.

“The governor and the State Water Board have made it clear that wasting water will not be tolerated and that conservation needs to be made a way of life for all Californians,” Drugan said. “Should our residents see any water waste, we encourage them to contact our direct lines.”

Repeat water-waste offenders may be subject to fines, Drugan added.

Contact Foothill Municipal Water District at (818) 790-4036.