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California Briefing / Los Angeles

DWP approves tougher water rates to cut usage

March 18, 2009|Bettina Boxall

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power commission unanimously approved new water rates Tuesday that will penalize residents if they don't cut water use by 15%.

Many low-income users should not see a rise in rates, while some homeowners with large lots who don't conserve can expect bills to jump $11 a month, according to the DWP. The rates will go into effect June 1 unless the City Council blocks the move.

Customers will have to use less water to stay within a base rate. If they are already well within that range -- as many low-income customers are -- their bills shouldn't rise, officials said. Charges in a second tier above that base will jump 44%. Higher overall summer rates will remain in effect year-round.

The DWP's commission approved the measure despite wet weather in February and early March that improved statewide water conditions.

"We have to be prudent; we have to be conservative," department General Manager H. David Nahai said after the vote. Statewide reservoir and snowpack levels, which are 70% to 87% of normal, respectively, "haven't improved nearly enough for any of us to feel complacent about the water picture we face," he added.

-- Bettina Boxall

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