LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is stepping up enforcement efforts to promote water conservation during the statewide drought.

A total of four staff members and specially marked vehicles from the LADWP’s Water Conservation Response Unit (WCRU) has begun patrolling the city of Los Angeles for water waste and responding to tips provided by phone, email and through social media, according to officials.

Using conversations or informational materials, WCRU inspectors will educate water wasters about L.A.’s mandatory water conservation ordinance and prescribe corrective measures, officials said. Repeat violators could face fines up to $300 for residential customers and $600 for commercial customers.

So far this year, the WCRU has received 1,400 reports of ordinance violations, with over 850 resulting in warnings or citation letters, according to officials.

However, Response Unit Supervisor Rick Silva said at this point, the effort is more of a community outreach than a policing measure.

“We don’t expect to issue a lot of fines because people understand the drought but simply don’t know about the ordinance,” Silva said in a statement. “After our interaction with them, they are usually able to correct the violation and comply with the ordinance.”

Officials hope the strategy will yield similar results to previous efforts by the LADWP to use a small team to enforce the ordinance. During the period between 2009 through 2012, 9,000 warnings were issued and only 300 monetary fines were imposed while water use dropped over 20 percent citywide, according to the utility.

Angelenos’ may have begun heeding the call to conserve: water use citywide fell 4.4 percent in July 2014 compared to the same month last year despite a 2.6 degree increase in temperatures, officials said.


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