LA County Seal

By Mike Reicher, Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 11/08/15 – 4:23 PM PST |

After criticism, LA County government limits car washes to once a month

In a move to conserve water at county-operated facilities, the Los Angeles County government has reduced its car washing to once a month and is nearly finished retrofitting a downtown car wash to use recirculated water.

The actions came in response to reporting by this news organization that revealed some county supervisors washed their cars two or three times a week during the state’s historic drought, much more than the typical driver.

With a fleet of roughly 12,500 vehicles, the county bureaucracy could conserve many thousands of gallons of water, although officials have not projected savings from the new policy. Previously, county departments had a patchwork of car-washing practices and guidelines. The new rules require all departments to comply, with some exceptions, but the guidelines have no central enforcement mechanism.

The new policy is significant because it sets an example for conservation, said Rachel Stich, spokeswoman for the environmental group Los Angeles Waterkeeper. Her nonprofit started a pledge drive for saving water with dirty cars. She expressed some concern about the lack of monitoring.

“It’s so important for us to conserve water that we have to hold people accountable,” Stich said. “People don’t just do it on their own.”

California is in its fourth year of drought and urban water suppliers were mandated by Sacramento to cut their potable water use by 25 percent compared with 2013 or face fines.

County officials could do more to save water, according to an internal report from September. It found that county facilities had used 7.4 percent less drinking water in fiscal year 2015 compared to fiscal year 2014.

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