Angelenos will be allowed to water their lawns one extra day per week under new rules given preliminary approval Wednesday in an effort to ease pressure on the city's aging pipes.
The new plan approved by the City Council would allow watering for three days a week, eight minutes a day, instead of the current restrictions that allow just two days a week but for 10 minutes eachper day.
With water supplies expected to remain tight in the near future, some council members urged the public to make conservation an increasing part of their everyday lives.
"It comes down to this: We need to limit our access to water," said Councilman Tony Cardenas. "It is becoming more and more expensive for every gallon we get.
"If this continues, we might have to do what they are doing in other cities and states, where people aren't allowed to grow grass.
The city's current water restrictions allow homeowners to water their lawns for 10 minutes on Mondays and Thursdays. But that plan has generated complaints about dying landscapes.
Experts also blamed it for putting increased pressure on the city's aging water infrastructure, potentially contributing to the rash of major water main breaks in the San Fernando Valley in the past year.
Councilman Greig Smith, who backed the change after refusing to follow the two-day restrictions when he saw his lawn dying, said the council needed to act before summer was over.
"We have already lost half thesummer season, and by the time we get this into effect we will lose another month's time," Smith said.Advertisement
Under the new plan, residents living in homes with odd-numbered addresses will be allowed to water for 8 minutes a day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Residents in even-numbered homes can water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Watering will only be allowed between 4 p.m. and 9 a.m. because, DWP officials said, the cooler temperatures help keep the water in the ground longer.
Because the 12-1 vote was not unanimous, the measure will return to the council for final approval next week. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is expected to sign it, and it would take effect in late September.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn was the sole dissenting vote because she wanted more flexibility for residents of her coastal, Harbor-area district.
"I just think we ought to have some leeway so we don't punish people living in the cooler areas of the city," Hahn said.
"It makes no sense not to allow watering between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Harbor area. So far, this summer, there has not been one day that has not been cloudy and overcast."
Jim McDaniel, assistant general manager with the Department of Water and Power, said the time restrictions were based on studies showing that watering between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. results in the loss of half the water being used.
McDaniel said the DWP is prepared to launch an intensive public information campaign once the City Council gives final approval to the measure.
"We are looking at door hangers as one possibility, but we will also have paid media and inserts in our bills," McDaniel said, adding other programs include outreach to community groups and neighborhood councils as well as use of the Internet.
Since water conservation has gone into effect, Los Angeles residents have saved 19 percent compared with 2006 levels, officials said.
Council members said they do not want DWP inspectors to be overly harsh in applying the new law.
"This is about compliance, not about citations," Council President Eric Garcetti said. "This is not about raising money, it's about conserving water."