Angelenos begin the first day of historic water restrictions

Millions of Angelenos on Wednesday awakened to a new, more arid future as unprecedented water restrictions went into effect across Southern California.

To some, the sweeping restrictions on outdoor watering may seem like the crop before the state’s severe drought, when lawns turn brown and brief showers become the norm. . For others, the rules are an unpleasant reminder of how little has changed.

“We started again,” said Rose Campos, who has lived in El Sereno for 18 years.

On Wednesday, Campos was helping a team install drought-resistant landscaping in her daughter’s front yard. The house next door, where Campos and her husband lived, still had a large lawn, yellowed in the hot sun.

The grass used to be “the pride of the block,” she said, but it will soon be transformed, too.

Campos is now one of more than 4 million residents in the city of LA subject to new Water and Electricity Department regulations that limit outdoor watering to two days a week in a massive effort to conserve water. in the third year of the drought.

Earlier this year, California water officials said they could allocate only 5% of the requested supply from the State Water Project after January, February and March were the driest on record. So far, it has left meager amounts of snow and ice and reservoirs near record lows.

Despite the deficit, residents in the area responded by using about 27% more water in March than in the same month of 2020, the year the current drought began.

“We have to do more. Adel Hagekhalil, superintendent of the Metropolitan Water District, Southern California, which supplies water to the DWP, said our situation is critical.

But as the sun rose on Wednesday, some residents were less than enthusiastic about the new restrictions.

Eagle Rock resident Alfred Gonzalez tends to his garden on the first day of the new DWP outdoor watering limit.

Eagle Rock resident Alfred Gonzalez headed to his garden on Wednesday, June 1, the first day of the new outdoor watering limit from the Los Angeles DWP.

(Haley Smith)

“What gardener designed these rules?” Alfred Gonzalez, 73, said while tending to his garden in Eagle Rock. “LADWP knows nothing about drought irrigation, gardening, soil.”

Although Gonzalez says most of his plants are drought tolerant and can survive eight minutes of watering twice a week – a new per-station limit for typical residential systems with unsecured sprinklers. exist – he also considers these rules to be short-sighted.

“If they really wanted to make a difference, they would ban pools, they would ban almonds, they would ban grapes and they would ban marijuana,” he said. “Then I will listen to what they have to say. Then I will listen to their bulls—. ”

Others are similarly challenged.

In Beverlywood, sprinklers at a home on Hillsboro Avenue are operating at full capacity, sending water down the sidewalk and into the street, even though Wednesdays are technically a no-water day.

Under the new DWP rules, homes with odd numbers can water on Mondays and Fridays, while homes with even numbers can water on Thursdays and Sundays. No watering is allowed between 9am and 4pm regardless of the watering date.

“We all know which days we have to water, right after turning off our own sprinklers,” said one neighbor with a chuckle.

Faucet for watering grass and flowers.

Sprinklers water lawns and flowers on a lawn in the Beverlywood neighborhood of Los Angeles on the first day of water restrictions.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A similar story happened during an earlier drought, when residents in several larger neighborhoods from Calabasas to Beverly Hills were criticized for breaking the rules.

Officials have said that won’t happen this time around, with DWP Superintendent Marty Adams telling the LA City Council last week that “enforcement will be everywhere. , but it will focus on areas of highest water use.”

Some are not convinced. Mirna Prado, a nanny in nearby Cheviot Hills, said she’s heard a lot about watering restrictions from her husband, who gardeners for homes in Beverly Hills and Bel Air.

While some customers agreed to the watering restrictions, others told him to ignore them, she said, adding that since it was his job, he had to follow through. what the client asks him to do.

“Some people say they are paying too much for landscaping so they don’t want to [follow the restrictions],” said Prado. “They prefer paying the fine.”

However, even against the backdrop of the Westside’s picturesque lawns and flower gardens, some residents on Wednesday said they were aware of the limitations and had no problems with them.

“I was prepared to lose my crops,” says Betty Ann Marshall, who demolished her Cheviot Hills lawn a decade ago and switched to a drip irrigation system.

Her neighbor, Kevin Goff, also killed his lawn three or four years ago, but says he wasn’t aware of the new twice-weekly watering restriction. He doesn’t think he can cut water use much more because he’s been conserved, he said.

“I have been in my house for 30 years and I love my garden,” he said. “I’ve been practicing proper water treatment, unlike some people.”

However, some Angelenos are still finding new ways to save.

In Koreatown, Melvin Mouton said he replaced his lawn with bark years ago, but still knows when he can water his odd-numbered house.

“I’m very awake,” Mouton said. “I stopped washing sidewalks and driveways.”

Alberto Campos adjusts a sprinkler located in a newly installed drought tolerant garden in Pasadena.

Alberto Campos adjusts a sprinkler in a newly installed drought tolerant garden formerly made of grass in front of the house on Holliston Avenue in Pasadena.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Back at Eagle Rock, longtime resident Dick Mullott said he similarly accepts that drought – and water-related restrictions – are a part of life in California. In preparation for the new regulations, he has donated dozens of roses from his front garden over the past few weeks.

Mullott, 83, says: “They need too much water.

In addition to roses, Mullott’s front yard also has tomato plants, sunflowers, grass and a bushy purple Duranta tree, though he said much of that could soon change. He has converted his backyard to a drought-tolerant landscape and plans to make the front yard even harder.

He also stressed the importance of preserving the inside of the house and said he emphasizes bathing for a short time even for out-of-town guests.

But while Mullott is poised for new restrictions, he says he’s also concerned that the DWP’s message isn’t being communicated: He’s received the first official notice of the change from the agency just yesterday and he is still unclear about some rules.

On top of that, the bi-monthly billing cycle means “we just find out how much water we actually use every two months,” he added.

Cheviot Hills resident Linda Adatto, 53, is also trying to analyze the plan’s finer points.

Adatto said the new rules should be “enough to keep most landscapes alive,” but is concerned about her recently planted Italian rock pine.

Fountains watering grass and flowers during the early morning hours on the lawn at a house in Beverlywood

Sprinklers water lawns and flowers during the early morning hours on the lawn at a home in the Beverlywood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

During the previous drought, an estimated 14,000 trees died in LA city parks due to drought restrictions, and Adatto doesn’t want the rock pine to fall victim to the new restrictions.

Officials have stressed this time that they don’t want the plants to die, and there is an exception to hand watering, which can be done any day of the week from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. by Use a faucet with an automatic shut-off faucet. .

Adatto paused as she moved to water the rock pine with a hose.

“Is it 8 am or 9 am?” She checked again. “I don’t want to break the rules.” Angelenos begin the first day of historic water restrictions

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