In an effort to ameliorate California's dire drought situation, local officials in Los Angeles are entertaining the idea of "drought shaming": that is, publicly naming people using too much water.
While the idea has sparked a controversy in the area, some argue that "drought shaming" has worked. The Guardian reports that "Bronson Mack, a spokesman for the water authority of neighboring southern Nevada, said the publication of the names of water-wasters in his state had often proved an effective way of changing water use habits." He added that "individuals were notified by the authorities when their names were about to be released in the public records."
Water providers in the LA have not been forthcoming with details about mega water wasters. According to the LA Times, the "Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have refused to divulge the names of California's top residential water users, including one Bel-Air household that consumed 11.8 million gallons of water in a year." For context, that's "more than 90 times that of an average household."
In some ways, "drought shaming" is already in effect: the term was inspired by a twitter hashtag of the same name, which was used (mainly) to out uber-wealthy "water wasters." Additionally, over the past year, aerial shots of several celebrities' homes were published online, including the lush, grassy lawns of many Kardashians.
Sadly, this really isn't uncommon -- according to Mack, celebs are truly some of the worst water wasters. "It's a who's who of influential people," he told The Guardian. "Often, people are shocked at how much water they use."
While individual water consumption certainly factors into water conservation efforts, the larger relationship between drought-shaming and drought-solving is quite complicated. According to the LA Times, "agriculture is 80 percent of water use in California" and that the state's "agricultural lobby is powerful and would resist a regime of forced water reductions."
TL;DR: The California drought is real, drought shaming is real, but could it produce real results?