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New Lawn Watering Restrictions Proposed as LADWP Receives Another Black Eye

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Detail of the LADWP Headquarters in downtown L.A. | Photo by Alberto Cueto via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

Detail of the LADWP Headquarters in downtown L.A. | Photo by Alberto Cueto via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
Tuesday was a big day for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The City Council approved a proposal to let homeowners water their lawns three times a week instead of two days a week while the utility's leadership skipped out on a meeting to discuss a report that accused the agency of lying.

After a series of water main breaks throughout the city last year, a study concluded that they were caused by the city's water conservation ordinance that had homeowners watering lawns twice a week. The Board of Water and Power Commissioners then recommended a four-day-a-week plan where homeowners with odd and even numbered address would take turns watering their lawns on different days.

But the City Council on Tuesday rejected that idea and opted for a three-day-a-week instead, championing Councilmember Greig Smith's notion that two days a week was not enough. Under the plan, homeowners would be allowed eight minutes each day for 24 minutes a week. That's six minutes fewer than the current plan. The three-day proposal will be sent to the DWP board for consideration.

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At another meeting on Tuesday, City Councilmembers were left fuming when LADWP refused to show up. Two committees joined together to discuss an audit that accused the utility of lying about a revenue transfer that may have caused the city to lose bond rating grades.

"There is no question in my mind that they were purposely misleading the council," Councilmember Bernard Parks said. "They had the money to give to the city."

"I've been watching the city for over 40 years and I don't remember anything like this," said an astonished Councilmember Paul Koretz, who wants to seek if LADWP acted criminally. "We asked them to be here before and they refused.

Both Parks and Smith said in their 35 years of working at the city, they had never seen a department refuse appearing at a meeting. But maybe the City Council was ahead of the game. Interim LADWP manager Austin Beutner said the department would not respond until an internal investigation was completed.