With California into its fourth year of crippling drought, Los Angeles County's water agency has proposed water-use mandates that could force some families to reduce usage by 70 percent or face a steep bill increase, reported the Los Angeles Times Sunday. The state was aiming to reduce overall urban water use by 25 percent, but critics of the L.A. County plan have claimed that large families -- especially in certain areas that will be forced to make steeper cuts -- will face a tougher challenge to meet usage goals.
Los Angeles County's water-conservation plan would calculate a single monthly target for most residential water customers by subtracting the reduction percentage from average 2013 usage data, reported the L.A. Times. Users who go over the monthly target would pay double or triple rates. Opponents of the plan, scheduled for a Tuesday vote by county supervisors, said the system is unfair to those with large families because the target does not adjust for current usage or number of people in the household.
Andrew Chadd lives in Antelope Valley, where residents would have to reduce usage by 32 percent, and said he would have to cut his seven-person family's water use by 70 percent to meet the proposed mandate. "We were trying to figure out … how we can do this and who's going to tell the kids that they can only use the bathroom on Monday and Friday?" he said last week to county officials at a meeting, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Gary Hildebrand, deputy director of the county's public works department, told the L.A. Times there would be an appeals process for special circumstances and that the system would reward people who are already conserving and give heavier users the option to pay more. "Water's becoming more scarce in the drought, and when you have a scarce commodity, it's going to become more costly," Hildebrand said, according to the L.A. Times.
The devastating four-year drought has inspired numerous methods to try and cut the state's water usage, including rewards for removing lawns or installing water-saving appliances. Recently, celebrities such as Barbra Streisand, Conan O'Brien and Lady Gaga have attempted to raise awareness about the seriousness of the drought, the AP reported. Los Angeles County's proposed method would reportedly be the first of its kind in the state.