Los Angeles officials order gardeners to stop watering their plants

Rare yellow-legged frogs are returned to drought-hammered San Gabriel Mountains

Gardeners in Los Angeles’ Elysian Park are being ordered to stop watering their plant beds by the city’s Department of Water and Power.

The move is a sign that the new environmental chief is trying to change course on the city’s decades-old opposition to the watering of public gardens and parks, as part of a campaign to cut pollution and boost the climate by using less water.

But the battle to water the gardens could be more costly than expected, water experts warn.

DWP officials estimate that turning off water to the gardens that lie within the Elysian Park limits would generate about 8 million gallons of water per day.

But officials are worried that residents may be forced to dig new wells, which could require extensive new infrastructure or higher water rates.

Officials say they hope to convince the community to let the public gardens dry up and water to the plants by using water on hand – such as using a water reservoir outside the park for watering the gardens – and by using the city’s water-conservation programs.

DWP Director Jeff Browner says the department is considering a long-range plan to water the gardens.

“They’re kind of getting our water back into the ground,” Browner says. “And I understand that that’s a good thing.”

But Gardeners Fight Back says city officials are “moving the goal posts” by watering the gardens, when it’s more beneficial to stop watering.

“We’re concerned that the DWP is trying to turn this into a water-saving exercise and that it’s really not a good idea,” says Doug Sauer, Gardeners Fight Back’s executive director. “I don’t think it’s good for our health. There’s really no health benefit to watering gardens. The best place to water is under the canopy.”

The garden battle

A handful of gardeners recently brought the city’s decision to a head by suing the city.

The case was filed in March by Gardeners Fight Back and Gardeners for a Healthy California and others.

The garden case is seeking

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