Residents would be able to turn on their sprinklers three days a week -- as opposed to just two days -- under a new water rationing schedule approved Thursday by the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners.
The City Council still has to sign off on the plan before it can be implemented.
Because of the extended drought, Department of Water and Power customers currently are only allowed to irrigate their lawns for up to 15 minutes each Monday and Thursday, before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
When an independent team of experts blamed that schedule for a rash of devastating water main breaks last summer -- including one that almost swallowed a fire truck -- the DWP recommended a new schedule that would ease the pressure on its aging pipes.
Earlier this month, the utility designated the irrigation of odd- numbered addresses to Mondays and Thursdays, and even-numbered addresses to Tuesdays and Fridays.
Though the board approved the plan, the City Council rejected it and instead demanded that residents be allowed to water three days a week to keep lawns green and preserve property values.
Under the amended ordinance approved by the board Thursday, odd-numbered addresses would irrigate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and even-numbered addresses on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Also, residents would be able to turn on "non-conserving nozzles," such as sprinklers and bubblers, for up to eight minutes a day, or 24 minutes a week.
"Conserving nozzles," such as multi-stream rotary heads, could be turned on twice a day for up to 15 minutes each time, for a total of 90 minutes a week.
Last summer, the DWP reported 101 water main breaks from July through September -- double the usual number for that time period.
A team of experts led by Jean-Pierre Bardet, chairman of USC's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, concluded the two-days-a- week rationing schedule created drastic changes in water pressure that put stress on corroded cast-iron pipes and caused them to break, leading to severe flooding in several areas of the city.
Bardet warned in May that unless the rationing schedule is changed soon, there would be another rash of pipeline breaks this summer, when water usage is expected to be higher than during other parts of the year.
Under the city's Emergency Water Conservation ordinance, DWP customers are also banned from hosing down their sidewalks, driveways, walkways and parking areas.
They also must use a hose with a shut-off nozzle to wash their vehicles, and not allow leaks in their plumbing to go unrepaired.
In addition, the ordinance bans restaurants from serving water to their customers unless asked.