Q & A
How water conservation measures in L.A. will work
Drought prompts the city to limit automatic sprinkling, as well as adopt higher rates for exceeding a usage reduction of 15%. DWP officials discuss the new rules, which will take effect June 1.By Alexandra Zavis
April 23, 2009
The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved new water conservation measures that will restrict the use of lawn sprinkler systems to Mondays and Thursdays for all Department of Water and Power customers. We asked DWP officials how the new rules will work.
Does this mean I can only water my garden on Mondays and Thursdays?
No. Only automatic sprinkler systems are restricted. Hand watering using garden hoses fitted with shut-off nozzle devices is allowed any day but not between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The DWP has found that people who water their lawns by hand tend to be more careful about how much water they use. But when a sprinkler system is left unattended, the lawn is more likely to become over-saturated and the excess water runs off into the drainage system.
Why does everybody have to use their sprinkler systems on the same day?
This makes it easier to enforce.
How will the rules be enforced?
DWP has a water conservation team whose members drive through neighborhoods in Los Angeles checking for water waste. If your sprinkler is running on a Wednesday, they can cite you for violating the conservation measures. For a first citation, you will receive a warning. Subsequent citations are subject to a fine, which starts at $100 but can run up to $600. You can help by notifying investigators of potential violations. Call (800) 342-5397 or e-mail email@example.com.
When do the rules go into effect?
Is this the only change?
No, the DWP has announced a new rate structure to encourage conservation. It also goes into effect June 1.
How will the new water rates work?
Under the current system, single-family households are allocated a certain amount of water at the cheapest billing rate. This is known as your Tier 1 allotment and is determined by three measures: lot size, location and number of household members. A premium rate is charged for every additional gallon used in a billing cycle.
Under the new system, the Tier 1 allotment will be reduced by 15%. Say you currently get 1,000 gallons; your new Tier 1 allotment will be 850. When your water usage hits 851 gallons in a billing cycle, the premium rates kick in.
If you do not exceed your reduced allocation, the DWP says your bills will actually decrease. But if you have to pay Tier 2 rates, you will see your water bills increase dramatically.
So how do I find out my new Tier 1 allotment?
After May 1, you can go to the DWP website, enter your customer number and address, and you will be given your Tier 1 allotment.
How do I reduce my water consumption by 15%?
DWP anticipates that most people who cut their outdoor watering to two days a week will realize that 15% savings.
How long will the new rates be in effect?
Shortage-year rates are likely to be in effect for at least one year. During late winter and early spring 2010, the DWP will have a better idea of how this year's snowpack and rainfall levels will affect the water supply.
Are we likely to see more water restrictions?
If everybody abides by the new rules, the DWP does not anticipate any further restrictions. But if conservation goals are not met, the agency could ask the City Council to restrict sprinkler usage to one day a week and then to ban it altogether.