Water Wasters in L.A. Will Soon Face Heavier Fines, Audits

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L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, left, and the DWP's head of operations, Marty Adams, right, discuss the city's response to the drought at the Tujunga Spreading Grounds in Arleta in 2014. Garcetti signed new water-saving measures this week. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

As regulators mull softening the state’s drought restrictions amid outcry from some Northern California water districts, water wasters in Los Angeles will soon face stiffer fines and water audits under a plan approved this week by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Under the city’s amended water conservation plan, which will take effect Tuesday, the Department of Water and Power will be able to fine residents between $1,000 and $40,000 a month for what it deems “unreasonable use” of water when the city is in an elevated phase of its emergency drought plan.

Currently, the department can fine only customers who violate a specific provision of the city’s water ordinance, such as watering at the wrong time of day or using a hose to wash down a driveway. The fines are relatively small, ranging from $100 to $300 while the city is in any phase of its conservation plan. Under the new proposal, fines for those types of violations will increase to as much as $1,200.

The customers who find themselves chronically in the highest water-use tier will also be subject to a water-use analysis by the DWP, in which utility staff members will need to be given access to a customer’s property.

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