DWP orders two-day-a-week watering restrictions citywide

Nearly 4 million Angelenos will be reduced to a two-day-a-week watering restriction on June 1 under drought regulations released by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Electricity on Tuesday.

The much-anticipated announcement comes two weeks after Metropolitan Water County in Southern California called for the most stringent water cuts ever in the region due to worsening drought conditions and supplies from the Project. The State of California’s Water Project is reduced. MWD’s actions leave many wondering how the rules will be applied in LA

Unlike some water agencies impacted by the district’s 35% cut, the DWP has chosen not to revert to a one-day-a-week watering scale. Instead, it will focus on staying at or below the monthly volume allocation, top officials said.

“We decided to use an allocation because we still have our own supply of aqueducts, groundwater, and we have the ability to shift some of our needs to the Colorado River,” said Martin Adams. . , general manager and chief engineer of the DWP. “We believe that watering two days a week and getting people to really pay attention and reduce their water use will help us continue to get the allocation that the Met has given us.”

The new Phase 3 rules will apply to everyone in the DWP’s coverage area – not just those who depend on the State’s Water Project supplies, Adams said.

As a rule, residents will be assigned two watering days a week based on their address – Monday and Friday for odd addresses and Thursday and Sunday for even addresses – with irrigation limits as little as eight minutes or 15 minutes for water-saving sprinklers. No watering is allowed between 9am and 4pm regardless of the watering date.

Adams said those who do not comply with the new rules will receive a warning, followed by an escalating fine for each subsequent violation.

Four people stand outside behind the purple flower.

Host John Gegenhuber, left, chats with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Cynthia McClain-Hill, chair of the DWP board, and Martin Adams, director general of the DWP, before a news conference in the drought-tolerant garden of the DWP. he is in Los Angeles.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Although city officials say the plan will help preserve essential supplies without punishing city dwellers, some water experts believe a stronger response is warranted.

“Now is a good way to go, but I advise you not to hesitate to go one day [watering] and watch those trees die if necessary,” said Greg Pierce, co-director of the UCLA Water Resources Group.

The group’s other co-director, Madelyn Glickfeld, said the DWP should “do more to permanently cut water use,” and proposed reducing taxes on the cost of replacing sprinklers with drip irrigation systems. is a possibility.

“I am disappointed that the local water authorities, while they had a drought plan in place, had no incentive to do something months ago, when we knew it was going to be a year,” she said. dire.

Indeed, the outdoor watering plan announced Tuesday is less restrictive than the plans of other agencies nearby – including the Three Valleys Municipal Water District, which will move some areas to Phase 5. of the decree. Mayor Eric Garcetti told The Times that this is because Angelenos has made a lot of progress in conserving water. For example, DWP customers have been in Phase 2, which includes three-day-a-week watering rules, since 2009.

“If you just fixed the number of watering days per week it seems like less, but if you look at it holistically, the DWP has been and will be doing more than most of those agencies in the country,” says Garcetti. all different places. that the city has also invested heavily in rebate programs for lawn replacements and equipment upgrades to improve residents’ water efficiency.

The mayor also said he hopes to get rid of the concept of “holiday and hunger” when it comes to water in LA

“I will never back down from urgency and focus, but I don’t think that means [we need] the tension and nihilism of ‘LA can’t do this,’ he said. “We absolutely can, we should and we must.”

Some have memorized the message. Glassell Park resident John Gegenhuber said he took advantage of the city’s rebate program to replace his lawn with a drought-tolerant landscape last summer.

“Over the last few years, we’ve become aware of this, and the principals involved, and the water crisis,” he said, standing in the middle of his drip-irrigated yard filled with blooming sage. “We were shocked at how good it looked with a substantial reduction in our water bill.”

Current incentives include $3 for every square foot of grass removed, as well as up to $500 for a high-efficiency clothes washer and $250 for a toilet, according to the DWP.

A man holds up and points to a mobile phone outdoors.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said Angelenos can use the My LA 311 app to report water waste in their community.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Garcetti’s message is more upbeat than that issued by MWD officials just a few weeks ago, when General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said that “we are seeing conditions unlike anything we have seen before. before” and called for a drastic reduction in water use. He and other water officials say the cuts are necessary because the driest January, February and March on record have left California in a state of fragile ice and depleted reservoirs.

In a statement Tuesday, Hagekhalil said the DWP’s move “will help the region extend supplies to our limited State Water Project through the end of the year.”

“By agreeing to volume limits on how much Metropolitan water they receive, Los Angeles will save the water needed to help ensure we meet our overall conservation goal for the area,” he said.

Previously, Hagekhalil said the goal was to reduce water use in areas dependent on the State’s Water Project from about 125 gallons per person per day – including residential, commercial and industrial – to 80 gallons to avoid more stringent cuts. If conditions don’t improve, an outright ban on outdoor watering could be in place as soon as September, he said, although the DWP and other agencies that have chosen volume limits will not be required to comply, he said.

DWP officials said their clients consumed an average of about 112 gallons per person per day, less than half that of some other neighboring agencies. The combination of two-day-a-week watering throughout the service area, enhanced conservation efforts, and other local supplies means they can limit residents to about 105 gallons per person per day. days and remains within the MWD allocation.

“That number that I think is very successful in getting us through this drought,” Adams said.

The move to Phase 3 also triggers other measures, including urging residents to use pool covers to reduce water loss through evaporation. Exceptions for drip and manual irrigation will still apply.

The DWP will also increase patrols to look for people who break the rules or waste water. Adams said the number of patrols is yet to be determined but would be “common” in the vicinity of the city. However, he said, the plan is not punitive but proactive.

“You tell people how much water they use in a day and they get shocked,” he said. “People don’t usually have a concept of it, but once they do, people will notice…. What needs to be done is constantly texting customers to make people realize that this is important, they need to make these changes and those changes will result in real savings. “

Some experts remain skeptical about the public’s willingness to again tighten water use. Just hours after the DWP’s announcement, state officials said water use in March increased 19% despite increasingly severe drought conditions.

“Just more water is needed to keep the same amount of vegetation,” said Jeffrey Mount, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center. “That coupled with fatigue from natural disasters … and the fact that we’ve conserved so much water over the past few decades makes it difficult to conserve more.”

However, Mount also says about half of the water used is for outdoor irrigation for homes and businesses, so “there is enough capacity to supply it without significant economic harm or loss.” disrupt family use”.

“DWP and MWD are now without a problem when I consider their available supply. But if this drought continues like this for another year or two, it is certain to happen,” he said, noting that the high temperatures and evaporative demand that led to the drought are likely to linger. some more time. “So to the credit of these agencies, they are hedging against an uncertain future.”

Anselmo Collins, senior assistant superintendent of water systems for the DWP, said the city is also working towards longer-term solutions, including encouraging MWD to build a transit system that enables the entire area DWP service access to storage supplies area.

Collins said other long-term plans include increasing groundwater treatment capacity, collecting rainwater and recycling water. One major initiative, Activity Next, aims to recycle 100% of the purified wastewater from the Hyperion Water Recycling Plant by 2035.

The agency is also replacing aging infrastructure and has set a goal of replacing about 200,000 feet of pipeline a year, he said. Although some of the major water breaks during the previous drought were attributed to changes in watering rules in Los Angeles, Collins said that was not the case, and the DWP’s loss of water remained “one of the lowest in the range.” lowest in the country”.

The restrictions will now be forwarded to the City Council for final approval, officials said. Collins said he believes Angelenos can achieve the savings needed under the new regulations.

“We use as much water today as we did 50 years ago with more than a million people in the city, and it’s for conservation,” he said. “We believe all the hard work that Angelenos has put in place over the past decades is the reason we have been able to get to this stage – two days a week – and have been able to meet the challenge.” DWP orders two-day-a-week watering restrictions citywide

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