Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urges conservation in drought

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a warning to residents Tuesday amid a severe California drought - conserve water now or face mandatory restrictions on use in the future.

Use less water and spend less for the water that is used. That's the gist of a new directive from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Standing outside the Department of Water and Power's downtown headquarters, the mayor signed the executive directive Tuesday, calling for big changes in water use. He says he wants the city to lead by example.

"The ongoing drought has created a water crisis second to none," Garcetti said. "We need bold action, and that is what I am delivering today."

The mayor wants the city to cut its water use by 20 percent over five years, ordering city departments to cut lawn watering to two days a week.

He also wants more drought tolerant plants. The DWP will now pay $3.75 a square foot to remove your lawn. DWP's headquarters in downtown L.A. is having new water friendly landscaping installed.

"You can replace turf, if you can install appliances, water saving devices in your home, please reach out and have that discussion with us," Marcie Edwards of the LADWP said. "The more money we save, it frees up money for us to put into our infrastructure, which is another critical priority."

The mayor also wants a 50 percent cut in the amount of imported water purchased by the DWP. With the drought, Los Angeles is importing about 80 percent of its water, much which comes from Northern California.

He says, if there is an earthquake, that supply could be cut off for years. He wants to build the city's local water supply, including treating groundwater, capturing and storing storm water and using recycled water.

"Reducing water is not just good for our environment, it lowers our bills," Garcetti said. "Right now, we're paying $1,032 per acre foot for imported water, an extraordinary price. Conserving that same amount of water through DWP rebate programs costs up to 30 percent less."

Los Angeles residents Eyewitness News spoke with say they already conserve water and this is certainly a reminder and an incentive to do more.

"The mayor is trying to get a program going that will be practical. It's a little hard right now, but there are people using more of the indigenous plants. Water conservation is very important overall but especially for our city," Stefan Elming of Los Angeles said.

The mayor says if voluntary goals aren't met, residents will face harsher, mandatory water restrictions in the future.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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