Statement by LADWP Board President Mel Levine and LADWP General Manager Marcie Edwards Regarding the City Controller’s Audit of LADWP’s Customer-Based Water Conservation Programs
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) welcomes every opportunity to enhance our water conservation programs, while ensuring that we make smart investments of our customers’ money in a wide-array of rebate programs that help them reduce both water and energy use. We thank the Controller for his input into the overall program, and we have already begun implementing most of the audit recommendations.
According to Marty Adams, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager for the Water System, “Every gallon conserved each day by Angelenos collectively saves 4 million gallons of water per day, 4,500 acre feet per year, and $2.7 million annually. That is $27 million over 10 years. Based on these savings identified by the Controller, LADWP has certainly made smart investments in water conservation.”
Water conservation is vital to Los Angeles, and LADWP has been a national leader in developing and implementing water conservation programs that have reduced water use while being cost effective over decades. According to the Auditor’s report, LADWP’s water conservation portfolio has consistently delivered results that fare better than other water utilities throughout the southwestern United States. While the limited period of time reviewed in the Controller’s audit indicates significant water use reductions for which we commend customers, it is strong, permanent water conservation rebate programs that offer a broad menu of options to all customers to permanently reduce water use, which form the foundation of effective water conservation programs. These programs have been at the heart of LADWP’s conservation budget. The short and long term conservation results are quite impressive. Today, Angelenos use as much water as they did nearly 45 years ago despite an increase in population of more than one million people. Amidst an epic statewide drought, LA is on track to meet both Mayor Eric Garcetti and Governor Jerry Brown’s directives to reduce water use. As of October, LA’s per capita daily water use is 107 gallons, an 18 percent reduction from fiscal year 2013-2014. We are also exceeding the State’s mandate of reducing our monthly water use by 16 percent compared to 2013, and LA currently has an 18 percent cumulative reduction as of last month.
As we urge our customers to further conserve water, it is important for LADWP to continue offering a menu of tools to help them do so. LADWP continues to break records for the total amount of water saved from all our rebate programs, including high-efficiency toilets, rain barrels, cisterns, sprinkler nozzles and weather-based irrigation controllers, among many others. In the early 1990s, LADWP rolled out an aggressive plan to replace hardware fixtures like toilets and clothes washers, with more efficient models. These investments continue to yield long-term water conservation results and savings for our customers on their water bills. However, for many of these fixtures we have reached a market saturation point and they no longer offer the broad based water savings opportunities they once did. So while we continue to offer rebates for indoor water savings, LADWP’s turf replacement program has helped us target the largest remaining opportunity for broad-based water savings—outdoor water use.
As of October, more than 15,200 LADWP customers, both residential and commercial, have participated in the Cash in Your Lawn turf rebate program. Since the program began, participants removed and replaced nearly 32 million square feet of turf, amounting to more than 1 billion gallons of water savings each year. That is enough water for over 12,000 LA households each year, and those savings will continue each year long into the future. Our analyses show that the turf rebate program becomes more cost-effective as the amount of square feet removed and replaced increases. Furthermore, the cost of the turf program rebates provided since 2009 is lower than the cost of more expensive imported purchased water, yielding long-term savings for all our customers. We continue to offer the program without MWD’s contribution to the rebate, and we still see a sustained interest by our customers despite the reduced rebate amount.
As LA works to reduce its reliance on expensive imported water supplies, LADWP is coupling our water conservation efforts with an aggressive push to build our local water resources, particularly stormwater, recycled water and groundwater remediation and capture. We are pleased that the City Controller supports this as well. These efforts are well under way, and our intent is to meet Mayor Garcetti’s directive to cut our purchased water costs by 50 percent by 2024.
LADWP looks forward to more opportunities to improve our water conservation programs and build our water resilience. We remain firmly committed to offering customer programs that will help our ratepayers embrace conservation while saving water and money.
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