In response to a “record” drought, Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday set new benchmarks for water conservation in Los Angeles after signing an executive directive at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) headquarters.
The directive calls for a 20-percent reduction in the city’s fresh water use by 2017 and a 50-percent reduction in the amount of water that is imported by the DWP by 2024. Garcetti also ordered city departments to cut their water use.
“Our relationship with water must evolve,” the mayor said. “We cannot afford the water policies of the past. We must conserve, recycle and rethink how we use our water to save money and make sure that we have enough water to keep L.A. growing.”
A DWP representative said the utility is not commenting on the executive directive, although its general manager, Marcie Edwards, said at the event downtown that the DWP is willing to work with the city on the reductions.
City departments will be challenged with decreasing watering or replacing lawns and water-intensive landscaping at city buildings, on street medians and in sidewalk parkways.
Residents are being asked to utilize DWP rebates for low water landscaping and to install efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances. Garcetti announced that the city will increase incentives to lessen water usage, such as upping the utility’s turf replacement incentive to $3.75 per square foot.
The mayor also called on residents to limit outdoor watering to two days per week and cover pools to reduce the water lost to evaporation. According to a press release, outdoor water use accounts for 50 percent of residential usage.
Mandates on new watering, swimming pools and car washing may be implemented if water conservation targets are not met, the release states.
“I think those are reachable,” Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, said of Garcetti’s benchmarks. “We’re already heading in the right direction.”
He said he recently learned in a committee meeting that in the last 40 years, Los Angeles’ population has increased by one million residents, and yet the city is using less water than it did four decades ago.
“Everybody doing a little bit will get us toward [that goal],” O’Farrell added.
Along those lines, the DWP recently announced that Los Angeles residents’ water usage decreased by 9 percent in August compared to last year.
In July, residents used 4.4 percent less water than the same time last year.
“I think there’s a greater awareness,” the councilman said.
As chair of the council’s Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee, O’Farrell has been briefed on the ongoing effort by the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks to limit its water usage.
In April, O’Farrell and Councilman Felipe Fuentes, 7th District, announced that the department saved 87 million gallons of water by shutting off irrigation systems during a rain storm at the end of February and the beginning of March.
“That’s been a focus of ours,” O’Farrell said, adding that the simple policy change played a big role in reducing the department’s water usage. “That saves tens of millions of gallons of water a year.”
He said the drought has impacted his district just like the rest of Los Angeles. However, O’Farrell said residents in the 13th District are known for their progressive way of thinking.
“Water savings are important here,” he added.
Garcetti’s directive also created the Mayor’s Water Cabinet, which will be charged with tracking whether city departments are falling in line with conservation targets set forth in the directive.
The cabinet — which will include Deputy Mayor Doane Liu, chief sustainability officer Matt Petersen and representatives from the DWP, bureau of sanitation, department of recreation and parks and others — will also work on long-term conversation efforts.
According to a release, they will increase the local water supply through groundwater remediation, storm water capture, water recycling and infrastructure improvements.
The cabinet will also analyze the water rate system and stay up to speed on state rules and regulations.
To assist residents with their conservation efforts, the mayor’s office has created a website, www.lamayor.org/droughthack.
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