Mayor Garcetti wants Los Angeles to conserve water, reduce reliance on imported water

These were the props at Mayor Eric Garcetti's press conference on water conservation Tuesday.
These were the props at Mayor Eric Garcetti's press conference on water conservation Tuesday.
Alice Walton/KPCC

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Citing California's ongoing drought and reliance on imported water, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced new conservation efforts Tuesday aimed at reducing the city's water usage by 20 percent by 2017.

The mayor also announced a plan to reduce the city's use of imported water by 50 percent by 2024. About 80 percent of the L.A. Department of Water and Power's water comes from the Colorado River and Sierra Mountains. 

To save water, Angelenos will be encouraged to water their lawns just two days a week, cover their pools to prevent water evaporation and refrain from washing their cars at home. The DWP will also pay $3.75 per square foot of lawn that is ripped out and replaced with drought-tolerant plants. Those measures will also apply to city departments. 

"The ongoing drought has created a water crisis second to none," Garcetti said at a Tuesday morning news conference to announce his executive directive. "We need bold action, and that is what I'm delivering today."

The conservation efforts are voluntary for now, but if Angelenos can't meet a July 2015 benchmark set by the L.A. Mayor's Office, then the DWP will move to mandatory efforts. It's unclear how the DWP would enforce mandatory conservation efforts. 

The mayor also pushed to reduce the city's use of water brought in from Northern California. He noted that imported water is expensive at more than $1,000 per acre foot and unreliable in the event of a major earthquake or disaster.

"For our city to thrive, our relationship to water must continue to evolve," Garcetti said. "We can't afford the water policies of the 2oth century, which were focused on pumping as much water out of the ground as possible when, when it ran out, taking it or buying it from hundreds of miles away."

Garcetti appointed a "water cabinet" that will focus on increasing the local water supply and promoting conservation. That effort will be led by Deputy Mayor Doane Liu.