Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 1 order for a 25 percent reduction in urban water use follows unprecedented restrictions from the State Water Resources Control Board in March. Such top-down mandates would be unnecessary if California followed more innovative approaches already working in other places plagued by drought.

The new rules in California limit watering lawns, serving water in restaurants and using potable water on golf courses, and prohibit hosing off driveways and decks. The reductions will be enforced using fines, cease-and-desist orders and enforcement officials. This is what happens when market prices are not used to allocate water.