Please bring back the "Drought Busters."
We're in the midst of what could be the worst drought in California history, and despite calls for residents throughout the state to cut their water consumption by 20%, some communities actually have used more water.
I realize Los Angeles has been a leader in wise water use and DWP customers have reduced consumption by 17% since the city enacted an Emergency Water Conservation Ordinance in 2008. But water use is beginning to creep up in L.A., despite Gov. Jerry Brown's warning that the state is in a mega-drought. Daily per capita water use in Los Angeles is now 129 gallons, up from a low of 122 gallons in 2011.
Angelenos need reminding. The "Drought Busters" could help. Remember how they cruised the city in Toyota Priuses with the "Drought Buster" logo — a dripping water faucet crossed out in red, a clever reference to the "Ghostbusters" emblem from the 1984 movie? After Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveiled the team of water enforcers, there were stories all over television and radio as well as local and national newspapers.
Oh sure, you're going to say, "We never got rid of the 'Drought Busters.' We still have employees who investigate reports of water waste and try to educate people on how to curtail their usage. We just changed their name, to the 'Water Conservation Response Unit.' "
Water Conservation Response Unit: That is so boring I almost fell asleep typing it. And it doesn't even have a good acronym. WCRU sounds like a public radio station in the Midwest.
This is no time to be dull. The state is in its third straight dry year and this one is the driest on record. While Southern California has done an admirable job investing in reservoirs and underground water banks so we don't have to begin rationing, nobody knows how long this dry period will last. The sooner Angelenos hear the message of conservation, loud and clear, the better prepared we'll be if the drought continues.
Some have suggested "Drought Busters" is an inaccurate or misleading name because it implies Los Angeles needs to conserve only during dry periods. Of course, that's not true. Give Angelenos some credit that with an ongoing public education campaign, they'll understand that conservation is essential to the long-term sustainability of Los Angeles and California.
But to educate people, first you have to get their attention.
So, DWP, who you gonna call: The "Water Conservation Response Unit" or the "Drought Busters"?