LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Department of Water and Power officials said they will look into ways to curb excessive water use, after a city councilman called for stronger enforcement measures against high water users such as a Bel-Air homeowner who used 11.8 million gallons of water in a recent year.
LADWP’s water system manager Marty Adams said the city imposes emergency water rules that were written 15 years ago, before there were “mega-properties and these mega-users” such as the Bel-Air property that recently drew media attention.
Adams said officials already have been reaching out to the city’s topwater users, recently sending out 4,600 letters, but they plan to recommend some rule changes to improve the department’s ability to enforce water restrictions.
“A large water bill doesn’t necessarily mean waste, but certainly the highest users, it’s very difficult to explain how they could possibly be using as much water as they are in accordance with the water conservancy ordinance,” Adams said.
Councilman Paul Koretz, who called for stronger enforcement measures, said his district represents some of the top water users who currently face no consequences for the large amounts of water they use.
He proposed financial penalties be imposed, but if that does not work, he wants a cap that if reached, would result in the water getting shut off.
“As a city we’ve been working too hard to conserve, too hard to build a local and sustainable water supply,” to allow some wealthier residents to use extreme amounts of water, he said.
“I’m taking responsibility for the extravagant and embarrassing use of water in my district,” Koretz said. “It’s a slippery slope to move towards a time when water is only for those who can most afford it.”
The Bel-Air homeowner topped a list of known residential water users detailed in a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting, and spends about $90,000 per month for water.
Koretz’s district has four of the biggest known residential water users in California listed in the report.
The council approved a motion by Koretz that asks the LADWP to report back in 30 days on steps to discourage excessive water use, such as imposing financial penalties or threatening to shut off the water if usage is not cut back.
The motion was seconded by council members Herb Wesson, David Ryu and Mitch O’Farrell.
Despite the high water use by some of the city’s wealthiest residents, water customers in Los Angeles managed to cut usage by 17 percent in August, compared with the same month in 2013.
LADWP officials said the top 100 residential water users in Los Angeles represents two-tenths of 1 percent of all water use in the city.