One Bel Air mansion uses the water of 90 average Los Angeles families.
That was the conclusion of a recent Center for Investigative Reporting/Reveal investigation, which labeled the homeowner the "wet prince of Bel Air." The home used 11.8 million gallons of water in one year, the organization found. Its one-year water bill was more than $90,000 in spring.
The city wouldn't identify the customer by name. "Nor has the city taken any steps to stop this customer — or scores of other mega-users — from pumping enormous quantities of water during a statewide crisis now in its fourth year," Reveal wrote.
Well, the City Council heard this loud and clear. Yesterday it voted unanimously to have the Department of Water and Power report back on possible measures that can be taken against these water abusers, including "severe" financial penalties and even shutting off this liquid resource.
"I'm taking responsibility for the extravagant and embarrassing use of water in my district,'' said City Councilman Paul Koretz, who proposed the crackdown. "It's a slippery slope to move toward a time when water is only for those who can most afford it."
The Bel Air property guzzles so much that Marty Adams, a senior assistant general manager at the DWP, told the City Council that "it is very difficult to explain how they can possibly be using that much water."
Reveal found that Bel Air had 19 properties that used more than 2.8 million gallons per year. The state's biggest residential water users were in California's wealthiest communities, also including La Jolla in San Diego and Contra Costa County in the Bay Area.
This waste is happening during a historic drought that has triggered emergency reductions in urban water use of 25 percent.
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What's especially angering about the overuse of water in certain Los Angeles neighborhoods is that it could end up costing the rest of us money.
Koretz's office says these guzzlers could force the city to import more, costly water, and this will ultimately boost your bill. "Those who are conserving may still be paying extra for excess water that others are using," his proposal states.
Wish the city godspeed in its crackdown. We're thirsty for justice.
With reporting from City News Service.