Spin on sprinklers

Posted on | July 27, 2009 | 3 Comments

imagesFROM the Water Education Foundation news service Aquafornia this Los Angeles Department of Water and Power press release: Water demand in the City of Los Angeles is at a 32-year low for the month of June as the result of conservation measures introduced last month. LADWP is pleased. We should be too.

Last week, the LADWP press office confirmed to this blog that since it introduced a cash-for-grass program on June 2, it has had 60 successful applications. I don’t know if LADWP is pleased. We shouldn’t be. In a city with more than half a million privately owned homes, this is the lamest number to be found outside of my bank account.

Watering restrictions first: Casual observation tells any Angeleno that the mandatory watering restrictions should be called elective restrictions. Drive down a residential block, any residential block, in Los Angeles on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday and you will see green, green lawns. Drive down the block early enough, and you will see sprinklers watering those lawns every day, not just on Monday and Thursday. On my block, at the most generous estimate, only eight of the 20 homes have observed the mandatory restrictions. City wide, LADWP reports a mere 16% drop among single family homes.

This is galling for those of us who conserve, but beyond that, it’s a mother of a missed opportunity. If elective compliance across the board of water users can drive down June consumption by 32%, imagine what the city could achieve if it enforced the home-owner lawn-watering ordinance with the same vigilance that it does, say, alternate side of the street parking? With our fresh water supply at risk, one would think that watering restrictions would be the more important priority.

If the flouters have a public hero, that would be 12th District Councilman Greig Smith, who last week proposed abandoning the watering restrictions. “The twice-a-week restrictions are turning people’s lawns brown, which hurts home values in our neighborhoods,” Smith told the Los Angeles Times.

And so to the woefully undersubscribed cash-for-grass program. It doesn’t appear to have occurred to Mr Smith to tell his constituents that they could get a buck per square foot for that brown lawn and use it to put in more appropriate planting. If it hasn’t, to those of you in Mr. Smith’s San Fernando Valley district, and to what looks to me to be 60% of homeowners who have yet to get with the program, a link for a bribe, also from today’s LADWP press release:

“Customers can get tips on ways to conserve, read source and background materials and get information on the LADWP’s rebates, including the newest Residential Turf Removal Program, by visiting www.ladwp.com or by calling 1-800-DIAL DWP and following the prompts. The turf removal program rebates customers $1 a square foot of lawn removed and replaced by drought tolerant plants or permeable hardscape up to $2,000.”

This post has been updated to reflect a LADWP breakdown of different types of water users, commercial, residential etc.


3 Responses to “Spin on sprinklers”

  1. Ilsa Setziol
    July 27th, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

    I don’t see how people can’t keep their grass growing with water 2x a week.

  2. admin
    July 27th, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

    I don’t either. I particularly don’t understand why you get a $50 ticket if you fail to move your cars on certain days, but if you let the life blood of the region run off your lawn into the gutter, you have only a remote chance of getting a warning. I fear we in Los Angeles as gardeners are rather like the Republican party. We don’t need a viable opposition. We are doing too good a job destroying ourselves.

  3. Dwig
    July 29th, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

    Here’s a better link: http://is.gd/1T9FN (it’s a compressed link to the http://www.socalwatersmart.com page that describes the program). I got it over the phone from the DWP customer service assistant; don’t know why it wasn’t included on the DWP water conservation page.

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