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L.A. mayor moves to limit water use and punish violators

Villaraigosa Calling the ongoing three-year drought a crisis, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today called for severe  water-use restrictions and a tiered rate system that would reward customers who conserve and punish those who don’t with higher bills.

Lawn watering would be restricted to two days a week, Mondays and Thursdays, and could be cut to one day a week by summer if the drought continues, Villaraigosa said. The mayor made his announcement on a rainy winter day, but L.A.'s current wet weather is not expected to ease the drought. Restrictions   could be imposed as early as March but would have to be approved by the City Council and commissioners at the city's Department of Water and Power.

The increased conservation measures are proposed because the Metropolitan Water District, a major wholesale water supplier to Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California, has warned that the worsening drought may force it to cut water deliveries by 15% to 25%.

“We’re headed into a crisis that we have not seen in decades," Villaraigosa said at a morning news conference in City Hall.

How much would water abuse cost residents?

The mayor urged the DWP to approve “shortage-year" rates, a tiered pricing system that encourages customers to conserve by charging more for water as usage increases. Customers who meet the city’s conservation targets would not see their bills increase -- and could even pay less -- the mayor said.

It will be up to the DWP’s board to set those conservation targets, and the price increases embedded in the proposed shortage-year rates, when it meets later this month. Customers could be asked to cut their water consumption by an additional 8% to 15%, or face steeper water rates if they do not.

Statewide, reservoir levels are at their lowest levels since the 1976-79 drought. The Eastern Sierra snowpack, a major source of water for the city, is also 71% of normal. Water that Southern California receives from the Colorado River Aqueduct and State Water Project also have fallen sharply, all of which is “grim news" to water users in Los Angeles, said DWP General Manager H. David Nahai.

-- Phil Willon

Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks at a news conference last September at Jim Gilliam Park in Los Angeles. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (38)


Cutting back is just putting a finger in the dam.
Any real solutions in the works that take into consideration the reality of living in a desert? No? I thought so.
Can we throw out everyone in our city government? Their shortsightedness is staggering.
As always, the fines will only impact the low and middle class. Don't expect the westside to go brown any time soon. But the valley will look like hell.

tony vilar must go!!!!!

He supports every illegal alien cause he can knowing full well that basic resources are limited but then threatens us with fines and punishment!!!

Elect Walter Moore !!!

Get rid of this gang loving graffiti mayor!!


I am a landscape designer specializing in drought tolerant gardens. I haven't "watered" my garden in 5 years. It is a beautiful mix of natives, succulents and naturalized plantings that are simply stunning with color and texture. Do your research and you will find that the"lawn" was brought to California a bit before the turn of the century by Europeans used to a certain amount of rainfall....Lawn is not native to California and demands an unrealistic amount of water, chemicals, maintenance, all supporting a billion dollar garden industry! We cannot live without water, we need to conserve and re-think the "lawn".

I am all for conserving water, after all, Southern California is a desert. However, probably more important is to stop the growth, stop allowing more and more people to move into more housing that is being built.
Los Angeles is populated enough, even if contractors and builders give political donations. There is no need for more housing - because we ran out of the natural resources long ago.
Our mayor has the weekly issue phenomenon - remember Million Trees LA, or other short lived initiatives? This too (emphasis on water conservation) will pass.

I recall last February when there was a photo on the front page of the Times showing Villaraigosa canoeing down the Owens River and blabbing about what a great thing it was that Mono Lake was going to be restored to its former glory, blah blah blah. Well, now, here we are in yet another drought and frankly who cares about Mono Lake?

"Oh boy, who riled up the guy hiding in his cabin, waiting for THE END? Get a grip and quit with the commie liberal paranoia. What would you propose? California aiming missiles at the sky and demanding that, "Mr. Environment, stop this drought!. Overhaul the infrastructure? Yeah and who do you think will start crying about the taxes needed for that? Guess what? Everyone has had the "choice" to conserve, but where did that get us? SUV's much? Illegal immigrants? Tell that to the "natives". Where are your ancestors from? Aren't you missing Rush Limbaugh or an old John Wayne movie? Go have a nap.

Posted by: Realties Last Stand | February 09, 2009 at 03:09 PM"

You are a real genius. This city is being run into the ground at an alarming rate. The infrastructure could have been revamped years ago with all of the money wasted on the Redline fraud, and money wasted on our failing school system and corrupt LAUSD.

I am all for conservation and I conserve more than most, I just do not believe that the Government should feel free to mandate that I pay more and use less, punish me into submission and encourage me to inform on my neighbor. All this going on while they funnel my tax money into crap that does nothing for the citizen and steal our tax money and it is all gone and unaccounted for.

Sure I like my John Wayne movies I even listen to Rush now and then. I am surprised you took time away from hanging out with all of your other trolls over at the Huffington Post or getting all worked up over Keith Olbermann's latest deranged rant? Good day to you sir.

Craig in Oz, do you think the severity of the fires your country is enduring right now has anything to do with the water restrictions?

sheesh - lighten up people. you remind me of the communists burning books and the last administration denying science. get with the program - we are wasting resources - thank god this mayor wants to do something about it - he has to force you to save yourselves. you can no longer live in denial. ever seen the movie "chinatown"? did you know what it was about? H20 - and how LAWPD was stealing it from the north...and has continued to do so for years. time to face up and pay for it.

Ruby, no, the water restrictions in Australia have not contributed to the fires we are experiencing. These fires are burning in heavily forested areas where people have built houses and established towns. These fires are ferocious and flying embers create a "rain of fire". The speed and radiant heat of the fire-front ignites all in front of it and a few feet of green lawn and petunias are going to have no effect on its passage.

Thanks for your reply, Craig. Best wishes to you and yours.

"The people whining about conservation need to stop acting like children. Most of LA water comes from northern California.

Posted by: Keith | February 09, 2009 at 04:21 PM"

The lower basin (Los Angeles) gets the majority of its water from the Colorado River. HELLO?

The mayor should look at the city first. It was pouring rain out today and the city's sprinklers along the 405 freeway were in full force.

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