LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is trying to set an example on how to reduce water use amid California’s fifth consecutive year of severe drought.

The DWP has, for example, installed drought-tolerant plants and fake grass at its substations.

“We stopped watering the grass to do our part to save water,” a sign at the South LA substation says.

But a CBS2 investigation found the water has not stopped flowing outside DWP buildings. Rather, the DWP has installed sprinklers to soak its fake grass for minutes at a time.

The seemingly superfluous watering has angered neighbors who say they’ve taken pains to reduce their own water use amid the threat of citations. The DWP has stepped up its enforcement of heavy water users this year, issuing more than two dozen financial penalties to homeowners in the first four months of the year, according to reports.

“They’re quick to fine us for certain things: over-watering or whatever,” said Amber Gordon, who lives near the DWP’s South LA substation and has let her formerly green lawn turn brown to save water. “That kind of raises questions.”

On a recent Thursday morning, CBS2’s David Goldstein witnessed sprinklers running for six minutes, soaking fake grass outside the South LA substation. Even an area completely devoid of grass — real or fake — was inundated by water from sprinklers.

The excess water ran down the sidewalk and toward the street in an apparent violation of city code stating, “No customer of the Department shall use water in a manner that causes or allows excess or continuous water flow or runoff onto an adjoining sidewalk, driveway, street, gutter or ditch.” Such runoff is prohibited even for recycled “gray” water.

Substations in Studio City and Los Feliz were also found to be outfitted with sprinklers set in artificial turf.

So, why is the DWP letting so much water go seemingly to waste?

“We’re rinsing the grass to make it more sanitary,” said Richard Harasick, director of water operations at the DWP.

The department said it waters fake grass at 10 locations for a few minutes a week, water use it said is allowed under current water-use ordinances.

Harasick said leaving the turf unwashed leaves a foul smell in the air.

“We’re really just trying to wash out the dog pee,” he said.

Comments (51)
  1. Janet says:

    The DWP is a great public utility! Tell Goldstein to stop ripping them. Go after charter schools.

  2. Tom says:

    Looking at Ms. Gordon,and her ghetto house, it’s hard to believe she once had a “beautiful lawn”.

    1. Tom says:

      You’re right…that house hasn’t seen a “beautiful lawn” in many years…actually never

  3. Sue Hutson says:

    Janet, you either have no clue about the damage the DWP has done to the once lush and green Owens Valley, and the many lawsuits they have fought forcing them to offset a miniscule amount of that damage, or you are a shill for them.

    1. Tom says:

      Sue…what does that ancient story have to do with these cheap grabs for ratings. His only good story was when he caught the drunkards. Ever since then, he’s grabbing at straws and it’s pathetic.

    2. Janet says:

      Meet Sue Hutson, shill for the corporate media.

    3. Lao Po says:

      Look at some construction photos of the LA Aqueduct taken back in 1910-113, before one drop of Owens Valley water was sent south to LA. The Owens Valley was arid desert to semi-desert long before LA exported any water from the Owens River. The “lush, green” Owens Valley story is a big fat lie. I live in that region and know it well.

  4. Tom says:

    This guy and his DWP expose’s. He needs to find something else to do; real stories that are actual issue. I’m literally laughing as I’m typing thinking about him trying to get through this story with a straight face. They are literally rinsing the grass and yes, with “real water”. If it smelled like dog urine, people would complain about that too. How else do you rinse something? That lady never had good grass btw.

    1. Janet says:

      I’m with you, Tom and Roger. What’s going on? Union busting? Boo, CBS.

  5. Roger says:

    DWP’s #1 priority is its customer but sometimes when they do the right thing Goldstein trys to make it into a negative for ratings. What I would like to see is an undercover investigation at his own station.

  6. Checks N. Balances says:

    The DWP has a pretty shady history. This is not the first time its incompetence has reared its ugly head. No wonder they keep asking for rate increases. Well, that and their hidden union slushfunds. Just more “do as we say, not as we do” from my embarrassment of a hometown.

  7. Janet says:

    That’s right, eliminate another good public institution. How are PG&E and Edison working out for ya, Mr. Big checks No balances? Union slush funds, LOL.

  8. Jason says:

    I’m all for investigative reporting but this is a lazy reach. I have a small patch of fake grass and have one dog. If I didn’t rinse it off every other day with WATER it would smell like an alley where homeless people relieve themselves. This looks like areas where multiple dogs would walk by and pee or poop on the turf. If that wasn’t rinsed off there would be complaints from neighbors about unsanitary conditions.

    1. Jerry says:

      I agree Jason…this is a ridiculously lazy story and Goldstein needs to find something else to “expose”. And this lady claiming she stopped watering the grass because of the drought is absurd.

  9. Hypatia says:

    Did it ever occur to these municipal and other large water hogs to treat the fake grass with dog repellent? Every householder understands this, with live or fake grass. What will it take to open a crack in MWD’s mind?

    1. Common Sense says:

      Good Idea!! let us all putting so dog repellent into ground water table.. you even think?!?! we’re all trying not to poison our ground water table and yet some people think it’s okay to spread chemical on the ground.

    2. Lao Po says:

      Dog repellants don’t work. I tried them all. Even cayenne pepper didn’t phase my female husky.

      1. Zeo fill works very well to remove the urine smell, but does require some upkeep. When time to replace the Zeo fill sand requires some work. Most of the time the urine is actually settling in the substrate under the turf. Pull the turf up and either remove the dirt and replace with new dirt or disinfect the area. For more organic or pet friendly solutions, use a watered down palm olive soap and water mix to spray over the area or vinegar and lime juice.

  10. Miguel Lanigan says:

    This is a “turd problem”.

  11. I think of the movie, “Chinatown”

  12. Dave Hill says:

    Government employees are criminal . Wake up idiot voters.Wake up.

  13. It is hard to understand the need for water on synthetic turf, until you realize this needs cleaning due to the elements and abuse it takes. It’s maintenance friendly not free. With proper knowledge and guidance you would be surprised the minimal amount of water and maintenance required to upkeep your product. In the video that was an excessive amount of water being used, I do agree. I wouldn’t be to alarmed though if you compared it to the daily amount of water natural grass takes, pesticides used and time. Our tax money is spent on all wasted ours mowing areas nobody really uses. You would be surprised the shortage cities have with man power. Every hour spent mowing lawns that no one uses, takes time away from repairing the broken swing set at the park our kids play at. I’m all for drought tolerant solutions to reduce water and allocate resources elsewhere.

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