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Restrictions, recycling in Los Angeles water plan

Associated Press Published: May 16, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Faced with drought and a jump in consumption, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has called for cleansing sewage for drinking water and imposing restrictions for watering lawns and washing driveways.

The mayor, who once opposed wastewater recycling as unsafe, unveiled a sweeping water plan Thursday that could cost up to $2 billion over 20 years. It comes as Los Angeles tries to meet a projected 15 percent increase in water demand by 2030.

"For over 250 years, through dry and wet seasons, we've grown from 44 settlers to 4 million people and every time we needed water, our approach was the same - we pitched another straw in the ground, we marched up to the mountains, to the aqueducts in distant areas and opened up our wallets," Villaraigosa said.

The plan includes adding treated wastewater to drinking supplies. The city constructed a system to do that in the 1990s, but abandoned it amid criticism.

"This is a new day," said David Nahai, the city's director of water and power. "We have new technology."

Some homeowners oppose the notion of treated wastewater for drinking, calling it a "toilet to tap" approach, but Nahai said the notion that sewage will not be cleansed first is unfair.

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