As Drought Continues, Los Angeles Mayor Orders 20% Water Reduction by 2017

droughtWith the drought that has plagued the state of California for the last few years showing no signs of improvement, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has issued an executive order that will require the city to cut fresh water usage by 20% by the year 2017.

No restrictions were placed on city residents, however the mayor did ask that they remain conscious of their water usage and try to cut back on watering lawns and gardens to just twice a week.

He also urged residents to take advantage of the Department of Water and Power’s incentive program. Incentives are available for residents who take steps to replace their landscaping with plants that need less water. The DWP will now pay $3.75 per square foot of grass that is replaced by drought-resistant landscaping.

One of the ways residents are encouraged to help out is to plant more native plants in their yards and to use plants that don’t require much water. Orchids, for example, only require about an ounce of water each week to thrive.

“The best best would be to use ground cover such as decorative gravel and stone, continued mulching also helps to retain moisture in landscaping,” says Don Saunders, President of Saunders Landscape Supply. “Another option would be to plant alternative types of ground cover such as periwinkle, ivy, and the liriope grass that doesn’t require much water to stay healthy.”

While residents avoided mandatory restrictions, L.A. city departments will have to cut back on city landscaping, and the water department will have to cut fresh water imports in half by 2024.

“We cannot afford the water policies of the past. We must conserve, recycle and rethink how we use our water to save money and make sure that we have enough water to keep L.A. growing,” stated Garcetti, according to The Los Angeles Times.

While the state has seen improvement in water use over the past year, it is still not where the governor would like it to be. Governor Jerry Brown had set a state-wide goal of reducing water use by 20%, yet as a whole the state only decreased water usage by 11.5% over the year. Los Angeles was below the average, at 8.8%.

Part of the problem keeping the state from reaching its goal may stem from the harsh regulations that the city has in place in order for residents to receive water reduction incentives. The DWP rebate in Los Angeles, for instance, requires residents to prove that the lawn they are replacing is green and healthy, not already dead.

This stipulation means that responsible residents who stopped watering their lawns get nothing for their efforts, and it even encourages people to use more water in order to create a healthy lawn that qualifies for replacement under the program.

Garcetti and other city officials have started to remove certain barriers to make it easier for Angelenos to receive rebates for using less water, but larger, wide-scale efforts are still needed to take California out of its drought.