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The Great Drought Is Officially Over, So Why Can't We Water Our Lawns?

Water content of the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains is 165 percent of normal.

The Great Drought is over. Yes, it's official.

Word leaked out last Tuesday when the Metropolitan Water District's Jeffrey Kightlinger bubbled in bureaucrat-speak:

"The welcome storms this winter have eased short-term water management challenges as we continue to advance a historic long-term solution to the water system/ecosystem crisis in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.''

In people-speak, that means there's plenty of water for current needs.

And with a torrent of expectation, Gov. Jerry Brown stepped forward the next day to announce that the water content of the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains is 165 percent of normal, and reservoirs are near capacity.

He gushed: "I, Edmund G. Brown Jr., governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the statutes of the State of California, do hereby proclaim the drought to be at an end."

Yet Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in place in Los Angeles.

"And despite a population increase of over one million people, we are now using less water today than we did 30 years ago,'' he said. "We will continue to stay the course on our current, effective conservation efforts."

So water rationing continues. Better haul out those calendars because residents at odd-numbered addresses can only irrigate their lawns on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and those in even-numbered addresses on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. And there are special rules as to what time of day to water.  And folks with 1/2 or any fraction in their addresses have another watering-day rule.

An earlier set of conservation restrictions was so onerous that District 12 Councilman Greig Smith said, to heck with this, and he watered as often as needed to keep his lawn from turning tinder dry, no matter what the mayor and the Department of Water and Power (DWP) decreed. And he pushed through revisions.

But if you're not a councilman, beware, because the DWP's 'Water Conservation Team' will continue to patrol neighborhoods to enforce the water-main busting  rationing schedule. If the spies catch you, violations can result in fines ranging from $100 to $600. And feuding neighbors can rat you out by calling the 1-800-DIAL-DWP hotline.

So remember as the sun bakes your greenery brown, the governor says there's plenty of water.  And as your horses are thirsting, the mayor says we Angelenos are using less aqua than 30 years ago, despite a rising population.

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Sherri Akers April 06, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Saul - you're kidding, right? When we are able to provide the water that we need locally, then talk to us about not conserving! We DESTROYED the Owens Valley BEFORE there was a drought. We are taking water from Colorado and Northern California. Are we really so greedy that having lush lawns that are not at all region appropriate warrants that? Plus - moving water is our highest use of electricity. You would really prefer that our kids inherit a city fueled by coal and nuclear plants so they can have a lush lawn? It terrifies me that articles like this will suggest to people that they should stop conserving.
Sheri Powell-Wolff April 06, 2011 at 01:31 PM
This article is completely irresponsible. How dare you incite people against water conservation in a drought prone state. There is no doubt that weather patterns are changing and that we are a DRY area. So, we had one good, wet winter. That is good news, yes. But, to take that precious resource and continue to squander it is madness. Particularly on a lawn, which you seem to advocate, that produces no food, offers no habitat and is one of the thirstiest plants available. You need to do your homework.
Rebecca Watts April 06, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Clearly the author plays much golf and simply can't stand the sight of a brown fairway. Developing lawns and golf courses in a desert environment seem like a typical expression of human arrogance: their growth may kill everything else in the surrounding area, but by golly, we'll get to play our games! Oh...and the comment about a neighbor who actually gives a damn about water conservation "ratting out" another, less conscientious, person is only a good one because he lists the number you can call to report water wasters. Move back East, where you think you have the "right" to waste as much water as you want.
Jeanne Kuntz April 06, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Councilman Smith set a poor example by continuing to water his lawn despite restrictions. Let's not follow his example. Our city, state and planet continue to struggle with lack of potable water, a problem that will not go away with one season's worth of adequate rainfall. We would all love to wake up tomorrow and discover that there is suddenly enough water for everybody, but wishing won't make it so.
Joseph Treves April 06, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Wow, aren't we lucky! After years of costly drought, thirsty Southern California can finally go back to our old ways of using and abusing as much water as we like because the governor has declared the drought is officially over. Next year and years into the future we will have the bounty of endless water. It's been decreed. The almond and avocado trees our state farmers had to cut down because of water rationing can now be replanted because the governor, in his wisdom, has stated that the drought is over. Officially. Thoughtful residents of Southern California should petition for a policy that pays them to pull out their drought tolerant gardens so that we can return to lush green lawns. The drought is over!! We may have the good fortune of plenty today, but it would be unconscionable to retire from the good sense policies of conservation that the City of Los Angeles has employed. Doing otherwise would be irresponsible.
Sean Arian April 06, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Wow, really? And perhaps we should have bought new Hummers when gas prices dipped too? In California, water has historically fed our economy and our lifestyle. In a doubt-prone area like Southern California, we need to think long term about how we use water. This doesn't mean draconian rationing, but it does mean being smarter about how we use water. We can save quite a bit of water just by eliminating waste (e.g., by repairing sprinklers or putting in new types of irrigation that eliminate overwatering). Doing these kind of things now will allow our economy to continue to grow without sacrificing our lifestyle when the next drought inevitable hits. People in LA have done a pretty good job of conserving water over the last 3 years--we set a goal of 10% and then exceeded it, reducing water usage by 17%. And I didn't notice a lot of brown lawns in Mar Vista.
Rafael O. Quezada April 06, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Sad slant on critical information and a missed opportunity to put a dire situation into proper perspective. You avoid confronting your readers with the challenge we face in the Southwest and clearly avoided stating that the announcement of the state's drought being "officially over" is inaccurate and a distraction. Intentional or not, your article seemed to celebrate the poor leadership example of Councilman Smith... Is it possible you're not informed? I hate to rub your nose in it, but here's the actual story. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/southwestern-water-going-going-gone/
Sherri Akers April 06, 2011 at 06:35 PM
We are importing a lot of our water from Colorado - look at what they face - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42454820/ns/weather/ Unless we are self sufficient and not importing water it is critical that we conserve. Could you possibly face a friend in Colorado and tell them we need to the water for our lawns?
Yvette Roman April 06, 2011 at 07:42 PM
You have got to be kidding with this. Fresh water is one of the most precious things on the planet. Why on earth would you choose to encourage anything but conservation of ANY of our resources...we are actually in a CONSTANT state of drought, being that we import a vast amount of our water from other states, and it is just plain irresponsible to forget that we essentially live in a desert that has been paved over and reinvented to look like something else.
Christopher McKinnon April 06, 2011 at 07:54 PM
The definition of "drought" may need to be changed depending on the region, topography, local water available (not transported) and may have to be adapted to average water/snowpack over ten year periods not 1 year to year. We live in a desert! I guess we will have to educate the kids more and save more water that adults like the author may feel the right to waste.
Kelly Hartog (Editor) April 06, 2011 at 09:55 PM
Thanks to everyone for weighing in on this. Just a note about the writer. As you all clearly point out, the drought issue is one that affects us all, whether we're in Chatsworth or Mar Vista. Writers certainly don't have to live in Mar Vista to write for Mar Vista Patch. As Patch editors our articles are often cross-posted on various Patch sites if they affect more than one community. Saul's piece (which is clearly posted as an opinion piece), has run on several local Patch sites, and I'm delighted that the wonderful Mar Vista community is responding to the piece, once again highlighting both the passion and knowledge in this great neighborhood!
Sherri Akers April 08, 2011 at 01:41 PM
We hope that people will join us on the MarVistaGreenGardenShowcase.com to see just how incredible your garden can be using very little water!
Christy Wilhelmi April 11, 2011 at 06:05 PM
When Mono Lake is full to the brim once again, then I'll believe the drought is over. Given that that may never happen, I'm sticking with my conservation and mindful watering ways.

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