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Climate and Environment

Water Waste Complaints Are Up, Mostly In LA's Lushest Neighborhoods

A peaceful, tree-lined street flanked by sloping green lawns.
A street in the west side neighborhood of Hancock Park.
(Erin Stone
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More than a third of L.A.’s water goes to outdoor irrigation, mostly at homes, according to the Los Angeles Department of Power. That's why, as severe drought drags on, Angelenos are restricted to only two days of outdoor watering per week (with an important exception: you can hand-water trees and food gardens any day).

As water consumption has started to go down, complaints are on the rise.

Last month, when outdoor watering restrictions began, complaints of water waste to LADWP jumped 56%. So far most of those calls have come from some of the lushest, highest water-use neighborhoods, according to city data analyzed by LAist.

Since the start of restrictions, most complaints have come from affluent neighborhoods in the central and west side of the city: Mid-Wilshire, followed by Brentwood, had the highest number of calls.

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According to LADWP, Brentwood is home to the majority of the city’s Tier 4 ratepayers, which are residences that use the most water and pay the highest water rates.

Brentwood has the most concentrated population of Tier 4 customers — 375 residences — followed by Granada Hills (344), Pacific Palisades (305), and Bel Air. Mid-Wilshire is home to 69 Tier 4 users, according to another dataset, this one from LADWP, that LAist analyzed.

The increase in complaints from some of these neighborhoods doesn’t mean people are flouting the rules more, said LADWP spokesperson Ellen Cheng, but it does signal that people are more aware of the drought’s severity — and making sure their neighbors are, too.

Of the nearly 2,000 water waste reports LADWP received in June, the department only issued 49 citations and no fines. Usually the citations are a result of people simply being unaware of their watering days, said Damon Ayala, an officer with LADWP's Water Conservation Response Unit, which responds to complaints and sends out citations or fines when merited.

So far, it appears Angelenos are largely heeding the call to conserve. According to the city, last month Angelenos used less water than any previous June on record. LADWP says the city is on track to further lower usage this month.

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