LA City Council delays vote on water rate plan

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The Los Angeles City Council has rejected a rate plan from the Department of Water and Power intended to promote water conservation. KPCC's Molly Peterson reports that Angelenos may still face new and higher prices for the water they use.

Molly Peterson: Under the proposal, customers would have to use less water starting in June to stay within a base rate. Go beyond your share, you'd start paying 40 percent more for excess use. Westside councilman Bill Rosendahl said the L.A. City Council wanted more time to hear issues – and to make sure the ratepayers did too.

Bill Rosendahl: Neighborhood council folks were there, community people were there. And just a general understanding, what does this mean, we didn't hear 'til today so, hopefully it will be fine tuned, come back to the council, and be acted on.

Peterson: DWP Chief David Nahai said his utility has explained that the city's facing a significant drop in supply. With a drought and other limitations, less water will come to L.A. from the Metropolitan Water District and from the DWP's reserves in the Owens Valley.

David Nahai: There has been quite a bit of outreach already about this but we're more than happy to continue to explain the need for conservation, the dire situation that we find ourselves in, so we're more than happy to do that.

Peterson: The vote bounces the issue back to the DWP's commissioners. Nahai said the delay might slow the water conservation the proposed rates are meant to encourage.

Nahai: We need to do something before the summer – at this point it appears that June 1 will be very difficult if not impossible.

Peterson:The DWP warns that if the city has to keep buying a lot of water, it'll have to pay more for it – and pass along those costs to businesses and homeowners.