LA Mayor Calls for New Water Use Restrictions

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in response to severe, statewide water shortages, called on Feb. 9 for an acceleration of water use restrictions under his 20-year water strategy as well as implementation of shortage-year water rates.

"Water shortages are becoming permanent realities," Villaraigosa said. "With new water-use prohibitions and shortage-year water rates in place, Los Angeles will continue to lead the state in water conservation and create a path for a more sustainable future."

Villaraigosa called for moving Los Angeles from Phase I to implementation of Phase III of the city's Water Conservation Ordinance, which will restrict outdoor irrigation to two days a week -- on Mondays and Thursdays only.

The mayor asked the DWP to approve Shortage-Year Rates, which will lower customer water allocations according to a tiered pricing system. The mayor also called on DWP to double the number of its Water Conservation Team and expand enforcement hours.

"The message is simple: if you save water, you will save money," Villaraigosa said.

Facing a third straight dry year and court-imposed limits on imported water, California faces significant water shortages this year. Statewide reservoir levels are their lowest since the 1976-78 drought and currently stand at only one-third of capacity. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), the source of more than half of the city's water, has estimated that if statewide water conditions do not improve they will need to cut deliveries by 15 to 25 percent.

In May 2008, Villaraigosa rolled out a 20-year water strategy for Los Angeles that plans for enough water conservation and recycling measures to meet 100 percent our the city's water new water demand by 2030.

Angelenos have been responding to the mayor's call for conservation. In 2008, commercial use is down 4 percent, single-family residential use is down 6.9 percent, and city government usage has led the way by reducing water consumption by 16 percent.

The water strategy includes a phased-in approach to water restrictions as well as the first real enforcement efforts since the 1990s. The mayor's announcement is an acceleration of these water restrictions.

On the technology side, the strategy shifts the city's focus from promoting efficient indoor plumbing to the outdoors, where Angelenos families use 30-40 percent of their water.

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