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Water, Water Everywhere

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Local politics blogger Mayor Sam said on Wednesday he has reason to believe that L.A. Department of Water and Power chief H. David Nahai is on his way out; nothing public has come of that yet, but water is certainly on the minds of L.A. politicians and residents lately.

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The L.A. Times reported recently that in these hard times, there's one more thing we need to economize on: the very water that runs down our drains:

Warning that the city faces a water shortage this summer, Los Angeles officials approved new water rates Tuesday that will penalize residents if they don't cut their water use by 15%.

Many low-income water users should not see a rise in rates, while some homeowners with large lots who don't conserve can expect a jump of $11 a month, according to the Department of Water and Power, which unanimously adopted the pricing structure. The rates would go into effect June 1 unless the City Council blocks the move......

Customers will have to use less water to stay within a base rate. If they already are well within that range -- as many low-income customers are -- their bills should not rise, officials said.

Charges in a second tier above that base level will jump 44% under the plan. Higher overall summer rates will remain in effect year-round. ["L.A. Water Rates Revised to Penalize Heavy Users"]

Some city agencies are apparently ahead of the game in trying to conserve L.A. tap water. As the Daily News reported, "City Controller Laura Chick found city government spent $184,000 last year for bottled water, soaring from $88,000 in the two-year period in 2004 and 2005 that she had studied for an earlier report."

In this week's L.A. CityBeat, Judith Lewis explores some of the reasons why more local self-sufficiency in water might be necessary for Los Angeles, and soon:

[R]ain in Southern California actually does little to quench the state's raging thirst. It recharges aquifers in the San Fernando Valley, but as L.A. Department of Water and Power general manager David Nahai reminded Sunday's crowd, those aquifers are too contaminated to use for drinking water.....mostly what rain does for Los Angeles is deliver the litter in our streets to the beach. The only place where precipitation really matters to a statewide drought is in the Sierras, whose spring snowmelt flows into our aqueducts and fills our reservoirs.....Nahai talked up the city's "water-supply action plan," a wide-ranging effort to wean the city off the dwindling supply of imported water. But to live up to its ambitions, the city needs money - and in the state's current economic crisis, money is hard to come by.

Blogger Mayor Sam has called L.A.'s water "some of the nastiest tasting water in America;" I've always found it perfectly palatable, if slightly redolent of bleach at times.

But just to make sure we're happy and informed as this all goes down, the DWP is leaving informative and helpful gift bags on some of our doorsteps, as L.A. Metblogs noted yesterday

L.A.'s water issues have a storied history, and every Angeleno should check out both the DWP's own detailed history of the L.A. aqueduct--and Chinatown.

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user Calwest. It was used under Creative Commons license.

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