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LADWP Responds to KCBS Story about Rinsing of Artificial Turf at Department Properties

Earlier this summer David Goldstein from KCBS 2 contacted us about a story about LADWP facilities watering artificial turf at its California Friendly landscape converted facilities – these are mostly power system distributing stations and related properties. 

During an interview with Mr. Goldstein over two months ago we informed him that LADWP has a California Friendly landscaping program at Department facilities which began in 2011. Since that time LADWP has replaced water-guzzling grass with drought tolerant landscapes at 71 properties. Through the program LADWP has removed all grass and installed 1.3 million square feet of California Friendly landscaping to-date, resulting in 34 million gallons of annual water savings – that’s enough water saved annually to serve 314 single-family homes in Los Angeles for a year.  Of the 71 facilities we have completed, 19 have partial artificial turf, and approximately ¼ of those get rinsed one to two days a week by sprinkler systems to clear the turf of human and dog urine; others are rinsed only on an as needed basis. This is permissible public health maintenance under the City water conservation ordinance and is also part of being a good neighbor. If turf had not been installed on these properties, we would instead be watering California Friendly landscaping and would still be saving more water than if it were grass.  

At the location that Mr. Goldstein filmed and asked about, residents complained when we initially removed the grass altogether and specifically requested the use of artificial turf, which we installed to be responsive to their requests.

We informed Mr. Goldstein of this and told him it appeared he was trying to do a negative story about something that is entirely permissible and appropriate. He decided to continue with the story. The interview took place two months ago with our Water Operations Director Rich Harasick at our California Friendly garden in front of the LADWP Headquarters. Mr. Goldstein has not contacted LADWP since.

At some of our neighborhood facilities, many residents walk their dogs on the property. With dogs’ natural tendencies to “mark their territory,” it is incumbent upon the Department to wash down the artificial turf from time to time. If we did not, the smell would become a nuisance for our neighbors. We wash down the artificial turf with above ground sprinkler systems at our facilities featuring the material. It is also important to note that LADWP facilities with artificial turf have it in most cases because neighbors specifically requested it. Additionally, in cases where a sprinkler head is damaged or leaking, we replace it as soon as we become aware of the leak, as any good owners should do.

Contrary to the story aired by KCBS 2, LADWP’s facility watering policies not only comply with the City’s water conservation ordinance--they exceed it. We have turned off sprinklers entirely at properties that still have grass, we are converting ALL of our facility landscaping to California Friendly, drought-tolerant landscaping and have saved tens of millions of gallons of water annually.

It is also important to note that even if the partial artificial turf at the existing locations were replaced with California Friendly landscaping, we would still be watering the sites a maximum of two days a week, still saving water, and still well below city watering allowances.

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