Hold the Water
Governor Brown announced a State of Emergency in January 2014: California is experiencing the worst drought in recorded history. Fast forward to eight months later >>> We haven’t had nearly enough rain to impact the drought, and Angelinos are still using 122-129 gallons of water per day.
This past weekend at Nate’n Al Deli in Beverly Hills I was pleasantly surprised by a sign on our table that read “Doing Our Part. Due to the statewide water drought Nate’n Al is conserving water. We will gladly serve water upon request”. To be honest, that is the first sign I’ve seen at a restaurant since January, and I frequent restaurants throughout LA more often than I’d like to admit. While eating establishments are no longer allowed to serve water to customers unless requested (as of July 15th), most still drop off a glass of water at your table before you even have a chance to order a drink. Eating establishments that do serve water without it being requested run the risk of daily fines up to $600, but whose going to enforce that?
Yesterday morning, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) announced, in response this state of emergency, that their “Water Conservation Response Unit” has added 3 staff members and specially marked vehicles to patrol the City of LA for water waste. Prior to yesterday, they had a whooping 1 person designated to enforce water usage restrictions on a city of 4 million people. While I appreciate the effort, it’s a big joke to think that 4 people can patrol the entire City of Los Angeles to ensure everyone is obeying the new regulations. That is 1 officer to every 1 million residents! And sadly, most people don’t even know that a mandatory water conservation ordinance with water usage restrictions exists. If you didn’t know, (it’s not your fault) check them out here.
As a customer of LADWP myself, I haven’t received an email, a letter in the mail, or even an insert in my monthly bill mentioning the seriousness of the drought and/or the new restrictions set in place. Their website’s homepage doesn’t even feature information on the matter. So, as I said, if you didn’t know there were restrictions, and ways to decrease your water usage, it’s not your fault. In addition to adhering to the mandatory restrictions, you can also take a few easy steps to do your part during the drought.
1- Take shorter showers. Every minute of your shower uses 5 to 7 gallons of water, depending on the type of showerhead you have. In addition to shortening your shower by a few minutes, you can also purchase a water saving showerhead for less than $15 that only uses 2.5 gallons per minute.
2- Skip the car wash. This month, don’t wash your car. Instead of writing “Clean Me!” on the dirty back window, write “Drought!” I promise no one will judge you for conserving water.
3- Hold the water. When you’re out a restaurant, don’t order water if you aren’t going to drink it, and if your server tries to top you off after you’ve had one sip, tell them to hold the water! You can also let the restaurant manager know about the new mandatory restrictions requiring eating establishments to only serve water upon request.
4- Cash in your lawn. LADWP will pay you $3/square foot to remove your grass lawn and replace it with California native plants. Succulents are “in” now anyways, so you’ll look cool while you save money and our water!
5- Follow LA Waterkeeper. As you may know, Governor Brown recently passed a 7.5 billion dollar bond measure that, if approved by voters this fall, will expand the state’s reservoirs and improve water recycling and other conservation measures. Stay up to date with what state and local agencies are doing to prioritize conservation and water reuse and recycling by following LA Waterkeeper on social media and getting on our mailing list so you can receive important action alerts.
No one is going to slap you on the wrist if you don’t take these steps, and the likelihood that you will get fined or even warned is slim to none, but, I can guarantee that if we don’t start to change the way we think about water in Los Angeles, we will be in trouble fast.
LA Waterkeeper is dedicated to raising awareness about water conservation, reuse and recycling in LA County, but we can’t do it without your help. Please help us spread the word to hold the water!
-Rachel Stich, Communications Manager