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Shut your yap -- I mean, your tap! I'm allowed to tell you that now, thanks to the DWP

May 26, 2009 |  6:44 am

LA DWP, water, conservation, rationing
Hungarians demonstrate improper water use (EPA/Attila Balazs handout Hungarian News Agency LTD. MTI)

Did you get your virtual Junior G-Man credentials with your LA Times this weekend?

I did.

Disappointingly, it's not an actual badge. But the attached plastic bag that often brings stuff like shampoo samples with my newspaper this time brought a message and a commission from the DWP.

''MANDATORY WATER CONSERVATION,'' the bag says. ''EFFECTIVE JUNE 1ST.... '' And it details all the limitations to water use that begin at week's end. In a warning almost as alarming as the ''don't stick your head in this or you'll suffocate,'' this plastic bag tells me, ''violations are subject to fines!''

Inside the bag is the part that makes me feel like the World War II blackout warden who was authorized to go around telling people to put out the lights. It's a ''Neighbors Helping Neighbors Save Water'' pack of five door-hanger messages, ''so you can alert others on your block" to the wasteful practices you have "noticed" in their yards.  I'm essentially deputized to put my neighbors on notice.

How much did it cost? How much will it save? Beats me. Maybe a lot. Maybe it'll just start fights.

Best case scenario is that it'll work in a kind of passive-aggressive fashion. The door-hanger bears good news and bad news: on one side, it tells the recipient how much can be saved by smart sprinkler controls, pool and spa covers, and an assortment of rebates. The other side lets me check off any of four different boxes, letting my neighbors know that they're wasting water by letting it flow in the street, that they have broken or leaky sprinklers, that their sprinklers are on between 9 a.m.and 4 p.m., or that the sprinklers are either leaky or broken.

This takes matters one step further than the lame ''droughtbusters'' telephone tip line that's been operating since last year. This puts matters in water consumers' hands. And just in time, too. With the whacks that are coming to the city budget, the city needs all the volunteer help it can get. I want to see the poster of the mayor, in a stars-and-stripes top-hat, pointing a finger right at us: ''Uncle Antonio Wants You -- To Shut Off the H2O!''

Really, though, I wonder who's going to do put one of these door-hangers on a neighbor's doorknob? This is LA. Your neighbors might be be putting in plumbago -- or burying a body in under the deck. We have our standards: what they do is up to them -- just so long as they don't run the sprinklers between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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