The drenching rains of El Niño aren't going to wash away the indiscretions of a handful of Los Angeles's most extreme water-wasters, from the so-called Wet Prince of Bel Air—the single household that used the same amount of water in a year as 90 typical households—to the more than 4,000 users who count themselves among the top one percent of the LADWP's water guzzlers. But right now there are no real penalties for Angelenos who use such excessive amounts of water, even with drought restrictions in place. So, following a request from the LA City Council, the LAWDP has compiled a list of ideas on how to rein in these wasters, reports the Daily News.
In a letter from the LADWP to the LA City Council submitted in late December, the water agency lays out the measures it's putting in place right now to curb the most excessive water users:
— The top one percent of single-family users—"predominantly large properties located in the hillsides of the Santa Monica Mountains, on both the City and valley sides"—got a second scolding letter from the LADWP. (The first letter was sent around the middle of last year.)
— Patrols by the department's Water Conservation Response Unit have been stepped up in the areas known for super-high water usage. "The extra presence and visibility has helped to increase neighborhood awareness of water waste."
— In-home audits by the LAWDP are being offered to the most excessive users, as a tool to point out areas for improvement on conservation.
— LADWP is "strategically installing smart meters on its top single family water users services." These advanced meters "[provide] daily information on water consumption patterns, which can immediately be used to identify suspected Ordinance violations."
— The agency is also reaching out "to the highest water users" directly, "in order to determine and engage the people (often landscape staff) who are most directly responsible for managing water use at these typically large properties."
But the LADWP isn't stopping there. They're also hoping to revise the ordinance that governs what they can and cannot do about water wasters so that they'll have a little more enforcement power. Possible tweaks that are in the works right now include:
— A more aggressive system of fining excessive water users that includes "an escalating feature, or multiplier, that properly reflects the growing scarcity of water."
— On-site inspections for households where over-use is suspected, and fines for property owners who don't respond or refuse to allow inspectors to enter and confirm water-use violations. (As the ordinance stands now, users can't get a citation unless the violation is confirmed by an LAWDP inspector.)
— The creation of a "water use benchmark" that would set a limit for large properties based on their size and local climate.
— A companion to that benchmark would be higher fines for excessive users; there are no amounts mentioned in the letter, but they'd be "significantly more substantial due to the much larger volumes of water potentially wasted at high water use properties."
· Bel Air homeowners could face new penalties for heavy water use [LADN]
· Bel Air Household Used 11.8 Million Gallons of Water Last Year [Curbed LA]
· Los Angeles Might Try to Stop People From Using 12 Million Gallons of Water a Year [Curbed LA]
· Top 1 Percent of Residential Water Users Get Scolding Letter from the LADWP [Curbed LA]