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Drought fuels backlash against proposed downtown water-slide event

'Mega-slide' receives backlash from thousands concerned about message it sends amid statewide drought

A permit application to set up a 1,000-foot water slide in downtown next month is facing opposition from thousands of people who say the event would be irresponsible, and certainly unseemly, given California's severe drought.

More than 6,000 people have signed an online petition to stop “Slide the City” from setting up on Olive Avenue on Sept. 27, saying it is “extremely irresponsible" for any city in California to allow an event featuring a giant water slide to take place given the record dryness being felt across the state.

The event must still be given the green light from the Los Angeles Public Works Department, which will review the application and take into account any concerns. The agency has not set a date on when will issue its decision.

"Everything is considered," public works spokesman Paul Gomez said.

The event’s organizer, T.R. Gourley, said he was aware of concerns but only chose to bring the slide to Los Angeles after some had expressed interest in it.

"I think we want to come to a city that wants us to come," he said.

Gourley, who lives in California, said he is well aware of the drought, adding that he had staff plan to take measures to ensure they are doing their part to conserve water: go without showering for two weeks.

The slide will use 12,000 to 16,000 gallon of reclaimed water, which Gourley said they reuse and treat throughout the event. He also noted that the amount of water would be enough to fill an average-sized pool.

His group plans to take direction from the Los Angeles ‎Department of Water and Power to determine how to dispose of the water. 

Concerns over the massive slide come after about 20 million gallons of water spilled onto the UCLA campus after a water main break.

But even before the break, Gov. Jerry Brown issued emergency declarations calling for strict water conservation efforts, even urging homeowners to allow their lawns to go brown. Since that time, local agencies have been pushing water conservation messages hard — messages that a massive water event may grate harshly against.

Michelle Vargas, spokeswoman for the DWP, acknowledged that the proposed event "is not consistent with the water conservation lifestyle in Los Angeles."

An opposing petition to save the event is also circulating online, but has significantly less support.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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