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Water-Use Violators May Face Big Surcharges : Antelope Valley: Two districts envision charging customers up to three times the regular rates.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Antelope Valley residents who fail to trim water use could be hit with hefty surcharges under mandatory water conservation proposals expected to soon be levied by the region’s two major water retailers, officials said Wednesday.

Faced with a worsening drought, officials of the Los Angeles County Waterworks Districts and the Palmdale Water District said they envision charging customers up to three times regular rates for all water used in excess of yet to be specified limits.

The amount of water that residents will be asked to cut back will depend largely on a decision expected in March from state officials, who are now determining the magnitude of reductions in state water deliveries.

Antelope Valley water officials left no doubt that water bill surcharges will be key to their conservation plans.

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“The one approach that does work is a pricing program,” said Hal Fones, general manager of the Palmdale Water District. Fones said water officials elsewhere have experimented with different conservation incentives and found that consumers pay the most attention to their water bills.

The county’s conservation program would affect water customers in most of Lancaster, west Palmdale and nearby areas including Acton, Littlerock, Pearblossom and Lake Los Angeles. It also would affect county water customers in about a dozen other areas, including Malibu and Marina del Rey.

County water customers will probably be allocated a fixed amount of water at regular rates and will be slapped with rates up to three times higher for extra use, Gary Hartley, a top county water official, said. Hartley said he expects to present such a plan to the County Board of Supervisors in February.

The county plan will probably include restrictions on midday lawn watering, driveway and car washing, and water service in restaurants, Hartley said. The city of Los Angeles already has similar curbs on water use, he added.

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The Palmdale district’s rules would affect its customers in east Palmdale and nearby unincorporated areas. Fones said his plan probably will charge customers two or three times regular rates for water used over set limits. The water manager said he expects more details in about two weeks.


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