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New Water Ordinance Expected to Save 1 Billion Gallons a Year

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Faced with multiple drought years and the fact that 85% of Los Angeles' water is imported, Los Angeles and other cities are taking a hard look at every way to conserve and curb water use. A new city ordinance was voted on unanimously by the City Council this morning and will be sent to Mayor Villaraigosa for a signature. The ordinance, brought forth by Councilmembers Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, will set new water efficiency guidelines for toilets, urinals, faucets, showerheads, dishwashers, single-pass cooling systems, and cooling towers in new buildings and for the replacement of broken fixtures in existing buildings. It would save an estimated average of 1 billion gallons of water per year over the next 20 years. That's almost like if no one flushed a toilet in Los Angeles for over a month! The specifics of the ordinance are below:

  • Toilets may not exceed 1.28 gallons per flush (current requirement is 1.6 gallons per flush)
  • Urinals may not exceed 0.5 gallons per flush (current requirement is 1.0 gallons per flush); beginning October 1, 2010, this would decrease to 0.125 gallons per flush
  • All faucets in public restrooms must be self closing. The flow rate for all indoor faucets shall not exceed 2.2 gallons per minute except as follows:
    • The maximum flow rate for private or private use lavatory faucets shall be 1.5 gallons per minute.
    • The maximum flow rate for public or public use lavatory faucets, other than metering faucets, shall be 0.5 gallons per minute. Metering faucets shall deliver not more than 0.25 gallons of water per cycle.
    • The maximum flow rate for a pre rinse spray valve installed in a commercial kitchen shall not exceed 1.6 gallons per minute.
  • Showerheads shall not exceed 2.0 gallons per minute.
  • Use of single-pass cooling towers for air-conditioning is prohibited.
  • All commercial dishwashers must meet the following requirements: (see chart)
  • All residential dishwashers shall not have a water factor of more than 5.8 gallons per cycle.
  • All installed dishwashers must be Energy Star-rated.
  • All high efficiency plumbing fixtures shall be listed or labeled by a listing agency such as International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).
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