L.A. 'Drought-Buster' law starts Thursday

TOLUCA LAKE, Calif. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is expected to sign this new water-usage ordinance into law Thursday, which means more than a million DWP customers in Los Angeles will soon have to change their habits when it comes to watering their lawns, washing their cars, and even ordering water to drink at restaurants.

At Paty's Restaurant in Toluca Lake, workers are not looking forward to the new water usage law, which says give a customer a glass of water without asking -- face a fine.

"We have enough things to worry about keeping business going and making sure we give good service, and now we have to worry about asking people if they want water," said Bob Greene, manager of Paty's Restaurant.

The Department of Water and Power says the new requirement is part of a 20-year water conservation plan introduced by the city of Los Angeles. In 10 days, restaurants will no longer be able to serve water without a customer requesting it.

Hotels must give guests the option of reusing their towels and linens, and residents will have some new rules when it comes to watering their lawns.

Sprinklers must be off between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and they can only be on 15 minutes per day. Violators will first be warned; the second offense will result in a $100 fine. Commercial customers will have to pay $200.

"I think that's perfectly fair," said Toluca Lake resident Toni Perling. "We do live in the desert and we forget that, but we need to be water-wise, so I think it's excellent."

Residents will also no longer be able to use a hose to wash off driveways and sidewalks, and if you're washing your car, you can only use a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle.

City leaders say they've had several restrictions like this in place for years, but this is the first time fines will be enforced.

For many, the changes will not be a big deal.

"This is no different than what they did about 20 years ago when they started this," said Granada Hills resident Ralph Walters. "I've been asking for 20 years when I want water, so this is nothing new."

The DWP says they'll be enforcing these new water laws with uniformed Drought-Buster officers that will show up to your home or business if you've been reported. The first offense is just a warning, but repeated offenses could cost you up to $600.


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