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LA mayor says ‘drought shaming’ is our civic duty

September 3, 2015 at 6:20 PM EDT
Droughts are here to stay, says Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, so his city is striving to employ sustainable practices to preserve water not just for the next two years, but decades beyond that. Garcetti offers his Brief but Spectacular take on California’s evolving relationship with water.
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GWEN IFILL: Now to our weekly feature, Brief But Spectacular.

Tonight, we hear from Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles.

With California in the midst of a severe drought, the state imposed mandatory water restrictions earlier this year. Last week, the mayor’s office announced that, for the month of July, Los Angeles saved even more water than the state asked them to, using two million fewer gallons.

ERIC GARCETTI (D), Mayor of Los Angeles: The droughts in Los Angeles and in California are here to stay. So, we have got to make it a little bit more exciting, make it a little more sexy.

Ah, water. We see so much water misused, wasted, thrown out to the ocean, or bad decisions made that take up more water than we need to sustain life. The Save the Drop campaign in Los Angeles is all about mindfulness. It’s about being conscious of our behavior and our use.

I’m half-Mexican, half-Jewish, so it’s going to be a combination of intelligent forward-looking action and old-fashioned guilt. Drought shaming is when you go to your next-door neighbor and say, you know, you have never been on that grass in your front lawn. Why don’t you get rid of it?

I would say, if you have a lawn you are using, great. Keep it. Water less frequently, but keep it. But 90 percent of lawns, maybe even more, go completely unoccupied.

We’re being very innovative here in Los Angeles with water, with the plentiful water we actually still have, switching out our turf and paying people to do that, to have better plans that use less water, and then recycling water. About 60 percent of our daily use of water, equivalent of that, gets treated through our sewage treatment plants to a standard you could basically drink. But then we wash it out to the ocean, instead of putting it back into the land here.

We’re not just planning for the next two years to get through the immediacy of the drought. But we have got a 10-year and a 20-year plan to wean ourselves off of water that we import.

This is a nonpartisan issue. Water doesn’t care what your party registration is. It just cares that you are wasting it. I hope to leave behind a legacy in which we reengineer Los Angeles once again, but in a way to live more sustainably with the water we already have.

I’m Mayor Eric Garcetti. And this is my Brief But Spectacular take on California and our relationship with water

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