Environment & Science

LA water fines already four times the number issued in 2014

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In a sign that water violations are being viewed more seriously, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has boosted its enforcement efforts this year, according to figures released to KPCC on Thursday.

The agency issued 27 financial penalties in the first four months of the year. That is nearly quadruple the number given throughout 2014.

LADWP fines 2014 - 4/2015

Michelle Figueroa, a spokeswoman for the LADWP, said the increase is largely explained by a more robust enforcement staff. At this time last year, only one person worked in the unit. Currently, the enforcement staff has four full-time and two part-time employees. That number is expected to grow.

“We know that we need additional staffing, and we’re looking at ways to do that immediately,” Figueroa said.

RELATED: See March enforcement statistics for Southern California water agencies

All of the penalties this year have gone to residences. Most have been $100 fines. Four homes, though, were issued $200 fines for repeat violations.

The LADWP receives tips from the public on instances of water waste, but enforcement officials must witness the infractions firsthand. The first instance results in a warning; subsequent ones trigger penalties.

Violations include watering yards outside of approved days of the week, allowing excessive water to run off the property and washing vehicles without proper control devices.

The fines are a small part of the strategy utilized by the district. From January through most of April, enforcement officials logged 3,798 interactions with the public over water violations.

Figueroa said that warnings and information are usually enough to get homeowners to change their inappropriate watering habits.