Beverly Hills

LADWP's Water Waste Watchdogs Hit a Snag

Residents hoping to flag the department about water waste often gave up after being told they'd be waiting two hours to speak with someone

While the the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is tasked with repairing broken water mains that soak streets during California's historic drought, a push for residents to report water waste has revealed other holes in the department that need fixing, the NBC4 I-Team found.

"There are egregious water wastage problems that you can't report," LADWP customer Helen Melville said.

In addition to calling on customers to conserve and limit days of water use, the LADWP is also touting a tip line to report waste and launching a conservation unit to issue warnings, tickets and fines for violators.

"There are various locations that have gotten two warnings already," Water Conservation Unit Supervisor Rick Silva said.

The majority of violator reports come in the form of an email. One man caught on camera watering in the middle of the day was one such violator.

Silva said the department received more than 1,400 tips in August. But some question how many more tips were overlooked because of difficulty reporting water waste.

"The DWP can't be taking the drought seriously if they make it this difficult," Melville said.

Melville tried to report a leak in West Hollywood, but she said she couldn't get through and was on hold for 20 minutes and then disconnected.

LADWP customer Sheri Bensian said she wanted to report water waste near Beverly Hills.

"Cars were driving over the water and you could tell the hole was going deeper and deeper," Bensian said.

Residents who hoped to report the leak said they would give up after being told they would be on hold for two hours.

NBC4 asked the department how customers can report water waste. First, a representative said there was no water waste hotline. Then, a few weeks later, the department responded.

"I think it's pretty seamless now," DWP Water Conservation Policy Manager Peggy Falcon said. "It took a process for us to get it working."

Now, the DWP said calls to report water waste should be answered within a few minutes.

A call from NBC4 to DWP placed on Friday took 30 minutes for a representative to get on the line.

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