LOS ANGELES — THE people of drought-stricken Los Angeles were told Tuesday they would have to pay more for water because, in heeding a call to conserve, they did not use enough.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was granted a 3.6 percent increase in water rates due to a 30 percent drop in water consumption by Los Angeles' 3 million-plus residents, which cost the utility millions of dollars in lost revenues.
The department, fighting a five-year drought, mandated a 15 percent cut in water usage in March last year with stiff penalties for those who failed to meet the reduction.
The people of Los Angeles rose to the challenge, taking shorter showers, turning off lawn sprinklers and garden hoses, and even recycling used, or "gray," water on their shrubs.
As a result, water usage plummeted more than 30 percent, leaving the department high and dry - and in debt.
The utility originally asked for an 11 percent rate hike, which the Los Angeles City Council turned down as "ludicrous." The council is presently examining the way the department is run.