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DWP answers questions on new water restrictions

April 22, 2009 |  1:11 pm

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 the DWP how the new rule 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 on any day but not between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. 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 oversaturated 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 the new rule.

How will the rule 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 waterconservationteam@ladwp.com.

When does the rule go into effect?

June 1.

Is this the only new water restriction?

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: the lot size, its location and the number of household members. You pay a premium rate for every additional gallon you use in a billing cycle.

Under the new system, your Tier 1 allotment will be reduced by 15%. Say you get 1,000 gallons today, your new Tier 1 allotment will be 850 gallons. As soon as your water usage hits 851 gallons in a billing cycle, the premium rates kick in.

If you do not exceed your reduced allocation, DWP says your bills will actually go down. 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 told 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.

Are we likely to see more water restrictions?

If everybody abides by the new rule, DWP does not anticipate needing to apply any further restrictions. But if conservation goals are not met, DWP could ask the City Council to restrict sprinkler usage to one day a week and then to ban them altogether.

-- Alexandra Zavis