LA City Council considers tough punishment for water wasters

The Los Angeles City Council will consider today a proposal to impose fines, shut off the water or take other steps to curb excessive water use amid the statewide drought.

The motion by Councilman Paul Koretz came in response to news that a Bel Air homeowner used 11.8 million gallons of water in a recent year, which translates to 90 households-worth of water, or enough to flush the toilet 6,400 times per day.

Despite the high amount of water used, the Bel Air homeowner currently faces no consequences from the city water department, Koretz said.

The Bel Air neighborhood, which Koretz represents, has four of the biggest known residential water users in California, according to a recent report by the Center for Investigative Reporting.

If approved by the City Council, Koretz's motion would instruct the Department of Water and Power to report back in 30 days on steps to discourage excessive water use, such as imposing financial penalties or threatening to shut off the water if usage is not cut back.

"It is not only dangerously irresponsible to waste water like this, it is a slap in the face to the rest of us who are working hard and doing our part," Koretz said in a statement.

The motion, seconded by council members Herb Wesson, David Ryu and Mitch O'Farrell, is scheduled to be taken up by the City Council today.

Despite the high water use by some of the city's wealthiest residents, water customers in Los Angeles managed to cut usage by 17 percent in August, compared with the same month in 2013.

DWP officials said the top 100 residential water users in Los Angeles represents two-tenths of 1 percent of all water use in the city.

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