Board postpones vote on L.A. water plan

LOS ANGELES A vote on the city of L.A.'s proposed new water plan has been postponed by the L.A. Board of Water and Power Commissioners. The DWP wants to change the existing water conservation ordinance, and is asking the Los Angeles City Council to work quickly to adopt the changes.

Rowland and Danute Giedraitis have dozens of plants, including overflowing ivy, in their expansive garden that needs water to thrive. They don't use an automated sprinkler and recognize the need to conserve when water supplies start to run low.

"Yes, it's nice to have green plants but if there's really not enough water, if nature isn't giving us enough, we'll just have to change. We can change and put something in that doesn't use that much water," said Danute Giedraitis.

Not everyone in Los Angeles is water wise, so the L.A. Department of Water and Power wants to change an existing water conservation ordinance to limit watering hours and boost fines for violators. The ordinance has been on the books since the last drought in the 1990s, but hasn't been enforced until now.

"We do live in a semi-arid desert, that we're heavily dependent on imported water, and that we have to look to our own resources," said LADWP General Manager David Nahai.

The LADWP is asking the L.A. City Council to make a number of changes. The DWP Commission wants to prohibit all outdoor watering from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on days when it's raining. It also wants to limit the use of automated sprinklers to 15 minutes a day.

Hosing down sidewalks and driveways is already banned, but many residents have ignored the rule. The DWP wants the rule to be enforced and violators be fined.

"Nothing in this ordinance affects the normal use of water for drinking, washing, showering or for any other, what we'll call, normal uses," said Nahai.

The Los Angeles drought buster teams have been on patrol since last year. They help enforce the existing water conservation rules, fine violators, and educate residents on how to be more water wise.

The DWP wants the City Council to increase the fine from $50 to $100 for violators.

Los Feliz resident Stan Getz says enforcement and higher fines might be the only way to bring about change.

"Well, one of the ways that you get change is unfortunately through peoples' pocket books. And I think once that starts to happen, whether it's the price of gas being $4 or being fined for watering your lawn inappropriately, I think people tend to make those changes," said Getz.

The Los Angeles drought buster team will be out in force, on the lookout for water wasters. Under the existing ordinance, first time violators will get a warning, followed by a $50 fine thereafter.

If the City Council approves all of the DWP's change, the fine will increase to $100 after violators receive a warning, and $200 after the initial fine.

The City Council will be taking up the matter in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, the city is going to be enforcing the existing ordinance.

There are a number of simple things you can do to cut your water use.

  • By fixing leaky faucets, plumbing joints and your sprinkler system, you can save 28 gallons a day for every leak that you stop.
  • Running only full loads of laundry and dishes will save between 300 to 800 gallons of water a month.
  • Shortening your showers by just one minute can save about 375 gallons of water a month.
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