Mandatory water conservation starts in LA

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New – and for some people, higher – water rates take effect in the City of Los Angeles today. KPCC’s Molly Peterson tells us how they work.

Molly Peterson: Each house in the L.A. Department of Water and Power’s service area is allocated a certain amount of water based on temperature zone, average number of people, and past use.

That amount’s going down by 15 percent. Go over, and you’ll pay a higher rate. DWP Chief David Nahai says a good place to cut back is landscaping.

David Nahai: On the residential side, about 40 percent of our water use is outdoors. It’s the sprinklers!

Peterson: DWP’s offering big rebates on water-saving technology. It’s using social media like Twitter to tell people about new restrictions. But L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn says the utility should have done more, earlier, to get people to cut back.

Janice Hahn: I really wanted to have seen a comprehensive educational outreach program where we really hammered home to people how much we’ve got a crisis on our hands and how everybody has to conserve water.

Peterson: Hahn says she worries that residents will find the new rates confusing but, so far, she hasn’t heard from many people in her district.