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L.A. water agency takes heat for wetting down its synthetic turf
Jill Odom | September 19, 2016
sprinkler-system-grass

Artificial grass has been watered since the 1970s for both saniatation and higher surface temperature control.
Photo: Daniel R. Blume/

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) has come under criticism after a local TV station filmed one of the agency’s substations watering its artificial grass.

The synthetic turf was installed in 2011 as part of a program to replace grass with drought-tolerant landscaping at 71 DWP facilities.

“All told, this program has removed over 1.3 million square feet of grass and replaced it with California-friendly landscaping,” DWP spokesman Joe Ramallo told . “That’s enough water to (serve) 314 single-family homes in Los Angeles each year.”

Nearby residents became angry after seeing the sprinkler systems running to water the synthetic turf.

“They’re quick to fine us for certain things, over-watering or whatever,” resident Amber Gordon told . Gordon had allowed her lawn to go brown during the drought.

When the news station went to investigate, they found that the sprinklers ran for six minutes, and soaked areas without turf, real or fake.

The excess water ran down the sidewalk and to the street, which is in direct violation of a city code stating, “No customer of the Department shall use water in a manner that causes or allows excess or continuous water flow or runoff onto an adjoining sidewalk, driveway, street, gutter or ditch.”

Ramallo explained that the rinsing of the turf was mainly for hygiene and to alleviate the smell from animals and homeless people who urinate on it. He pointed out that of the 19 DWP properties with artificial turf only five of them were rinsed twice a week in response to the urine problem.

In these instances, the artificial turf still needs less water than natural grass would need. Ramallo also says that the nearby residents specifically requested artificial turf be used when the natural grass was removed.

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