[LA FEATURE]Running Dry

LA FEATURE

Drought-stricken California communities face a third-consecutive dry year with no relief in sight

LA Councilmen Want City Departments to be "Showcases of Sustainability" in Drought

Councilmen Felipe Fuentes and Mike Bonin introduced two motions asking the Department of Water and Power to step up in conserving water across the city

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two Los Angeles city councilmen have called on the city's utility agencies to cut water usage during the state's historic drought.

    Councilmen Felipe Fuentes and Mike Bonin introduced a motion Tuesday asking the city’s Department of Water and Power and the General Services Department to immediately stop watering any non-recreational lawns on city property.

    Though the DWP has water-saving programs for residents, the agency itself waters grass on its own property, "sending Angelenos mixed-messages about the crucial importance of conserving water," according to the motion.

    The city's non-recreational lawns are already waiting to be converted to drought-tolerant native plants. 

    "Even if we were not in the middle of a drought, it makes no sense to have a large, lush lawn at a DWP substation," Bonin said in a statement.

    DWP rules restrict Los Angeles residents' lawn watering to 8-minute segments before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m. every other day of the week. The department also has a program offering financial incentives for water customers to convert their grass lawns to drought-tolerant plants.

    DWP spokeswoman Michelle Vargas said the DWP is considering using use drip irrigation on its lawns. 

    Fuentes and Bonin are also asking the DWP to consider water conservation measures recommended in a UCLA report released in June.

    The report found that both raising water prices and putting into play mandatory water restrictions would lead consumers to use less water.

    While the DWP is already implementing some of the report's recommendations, the motion asks the department to examine its water pricing system, which has two tiers of water usage and charges customers who use more water a higher rate.

    The motion asks the department to considering adding more tiers to encourage conservation.

    The DWP is also asked to explore more landscaping options to allow residents to use less water outdoors, water budgets that allocate a set amount of water per household and dual-metering systems that allow outdoor water use to be billed separately from indoor water use.

    The DWP is expected to report to the city's Energy and Environment Committee on the feasibility of these recommendations in September, said David Graham-Caso, a spokesman for Bonin.