Gov. Jerry Brown begs and pleads. City Hall makes demands. Authorities impose steeper fines for hosing down sidewalks and driveways. But we still use water pretty much as we always have. At the beginning of the year the governor called for a 20 percent reduction in water use. We gave him a 5 percent reduction.
There might be a historic, "100-year" drought out there somewhere, but it's going to get nice and wet in your shower, right? So L.A. City Hall is now considering a new tact that might just get us to sit up and start saving.
Officials are considering making us all pay more for water, which has been a relatively cheap and easy resource in Los Angeles. This week a City Council motion to study water price hikes for certain users was introduced:
City Councilmen Felipe Fuentes and Mike Bonin yesterday proposed having the DWP "explore ... expanding its tiered-pricing." And by expanding, they mean increasing the rates, at least for some.
The proposal wants to mirror suggestions in a UCLA California Center for Sustainable Communities report this summer that concluded "increasing the price of water ... reduces consumption."
Does that mean higher rates for the rich? Or maybe for the poor? How about those in the middle?
Today in L.A. we have two-tiered water rate system that charges mega-water-using households a small premium. UCLA suggests the city create "more than the current two tiers, in which the unit price for water rises as the volume of water consumption increases."
Both UCLA and the city councilmen say they want to protect low-income users from increases, though. So it would appear to us that you middle-class, single-family households better look out.
A spokesman for Bonin put it this way for us:
The suggestions in the UCLA report are intended to make excessive water use during the drought more expensive in order to both create an incentive for conservation, as well as to keep bills reasonable for the people who do their part and use a reasonable amount of water.
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The councilmen also want to explore establishing "water budgets," for households, which sounds like water-use targets to us.
They also want to see, possibly, separate metering and billing for outdoor use and more incentives for low-use landscaping and irrigation systems.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that L.A. should prepare for the possibility of water-rate hikes, especially if this drought continues.