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LADWP Started Watering Their Artificial Lawns Because Dogs Keep Peeing On Them

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The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has been pushing drought-related water conservation efforts in the city for years, and for good reason. Amid years of crippling drought, they've started fining heavy water users, paid Angelenos to tear out their thirsty lawns, and installed drought-tolerant plants and artificial turf at their own substations. All of which is to say that neighbors had reason to be surprised when they noticed that the LADWP was, in fact, watering the fake grass at their substations.

A CBS 2 investigation found that the LADWP had installed sprinkler systems to water the artificial lawns at at least three of their substations; the state's largest water agency later told the station that they water fake grass at ten locations for a few minutes a week. Wait, what?

Well, it seems that no one bothered to give the neighborhood dogs the memo when the substations switched over to artificial turf, and they've continued to use the green patches for, shall we say, taking care of business.

"We're really just trying to wash out the dog pee," Richard Harasick, director of water operations at the LADWP, told CBS. Harasick explained that they had to rinse the grass to keep it sanitary, and that leaving it unwashed creates a foul odor.

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That actually kind of makes sense. But the optics certainly aren't great, to say the least. A CBS 2 reporter who visited a South L.A. substation witnessed the sprinklers running for a full six minutes, with water sort of going all over the place:

The excess water ran down the sidewalk and toward the street in an apparent violation of city code stating, "No customer of the Department shall use water in a manner that causes or allows excess or continuous water flow or runoff onto an adjoining sidewalk, driveway, street, gutter or ditch." Such runoff is prohibited even for recycled "gray" water.

Dr. Stephanie Pincetl, director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA, told LAist the LADWP was probably "caught between a rock and a hard place."

"I think that they're feeling a lot of pressure from their neighbors. If they don't water the lawn and it stinks, then the neighbors will be mad," she said. "If they do water the lawn, reporters like you will say, 'Oh, they shouldn't be watering their lawn.'" Touché!

"It strikes me as one of those absurd things where you're trying to please everybody and you end up making everybody mad."