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L.A.'s utility chief finally sees the light

June 24, 2008 | 11:31 am

Nahai After urging Los Angeles residents to conserve water and energy, it turns out that H. David Nahai, general manager of the Department of Water & Power, has a lot to learn about conservation and life as a public official.  A department audit of his nearly 6,000-square-foot home showed that Nahai's water consumption was higher than his neighbors -- thanks in part to garden sprinklers that ran every day even when it rained -- and that his family had not taken advantage of many energy-saving appliances and devices (such as florescent bulbs), said the Daily News.

"I'm opening up my private life and I'm saying, 'Here is what I've discovered and here's what I want to do to reduce both my usage and my expenditures. Can you do the same?' ''

But Nahai was far more protective of his water and electrical consumption earlier this month when asked to show a copy of his home DWP bill:

"I don’t want to talk to you anymore. You’re harassing me."

That's what he told Alan Mittelstaedt, former City Beat news editor and now guest blogger at Witness LA, who has been seeking (some would say hounding) Nahai and his staff to see a copy of the general manager's DWP bill to find out if the executive's conservation talk was just that. Mittelstaedt actually stopped by Nahai's home to see the bill and later ended up filing a request for copies under the California Public Records Act. After the agency turned down his request, Mittelstaedt threatened to sue to get the information (we are still waiting to hear if the DWP ever did supply the bills).

Nahai's new willingness to admit to his water and power-wasting ways and share his lessons with the public seems more PR savvy than his previous comments or lack thereof. When asked back in May what his monthly water bill was, Nahai, head of the nation's largest municipal utility, said he had no idea.

"I don’t know," he said. "You’d have to ask my wife."

-- Jesus Sanchez

Photo: DWP