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Water demand in Los Angeles reaches a 32-year low, DWP says

One official says the drop shows that the new water restrictions are working. Others report falling demand as well.

July 28, 2009|Nicole Santa Cruz and David Zahniser

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reported Monday that water demand reached a 32-year low for the month of June, dropping 11% compared with the same period in 2008.

Jim McDaniel, the senior assistant general manager of DWP's water system, said hard work by ratepayers is paying off. Though experts said June was on average 4 degrees cooler than normal, McDaniel attributed the low demand to the new water restrictions.

"You don't see those kinds of reductions just due to weather," he said.

The restrictions limit the use of sprinklers to 15 minutes a day on Mondays and Thursdays. No watering is allowed between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The DWP released the data days after lawmakers complained that the water-saving rules are killing lawns and gardens.

Councilman Greig Smith proposed that DWP customers be permitted to use their sprinklers for up to eight minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

"The twice-a-week restrictions are turning people's lawns brown, which hurts home values in our neighborhoods," he said.

Smith made his proposal Friday, the same day the council agreed to let golf courses, colleges and other large property owners water any day of the week as long as they reduce water consumption by 20%.

In Long Beach, consumers used 9.4% less water in June compared to 2008. The once-green lawns in that city have seen better days since the city imposed restrictions in September 2007, said Matthew Veeh, acting director of government and public affairs with the Long Beach Water Department.

That plan, which is monitored by citizens, restricts residents to a schedule where they can water three times each week, with a limit of 15 minutes depending on the irrigation system.

"People's lawns are definitely not looking too great at this point," Veeh said.

Instead of water-hogging grass lawns, he suggested people should consider drought-resistant landscaping, with native California plants that require less water.

June was 18.8% below the department's 10-year average from 1998 to 2007. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies water to 26 agencies including Los Angeles and Long Beach, saw demand drop as well.

Compared to a six-year average from 2003 to 2008, usage in June was down 14%, the lowest since June of 2003, said Armando Acuna, a spokesman for MWD.

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nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

david.zahniser@latimes.com

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