As drought drives prices higher, millions of Californians struggle to pay for water they used to take for granted — until water gets cut off, or, in rare cases, turned off.
In the Los Angeles suburb of West Hollywood, for example, residents no longer are able to pay for water from the Los Angeles River that is used to flush toilets, shower, irrigate gardens and pump street-cleaning chemicals to keep streets dry.
But that could change. The city on Wednesday said it would begin to limit the amount of water it provides to homes and businesses.
Already, residents are complaining. In the past few days, about 50 people have called the city’s hotline, demanding the water be cut.
That “is simply not true,” the city said in a statement. “In the time since this crisis began, we have acted decisively to protect the supply of water and ensure it is available to all customers.”
The city has been reducing the amount of water it sends to some of its customers for eight years. But water companies in West Hollywood and other cities also reduced their water supplies.
In the past month, cities across the state have cut their water deliveries to all but one region.
As the water crisis grows more desperate in California, many residents are growing bolder in their criticism and frustration.
“The water has got to be cut. I will die if they don’t. … It’s either the water or the city,” said a woman who declined to give her name, as she stood on a corner in a neighborhood near a West Hollywood intersection late last week.
The woman, who said she had been unable to get water for two months, said she was outraged by the way the city had been handling the water cutbacks.
“They’re just not listening to us,” she said in Spanish. “It’s all political.”
She stopped in to visit a friend, who told her all of the other people in the neighborhood had called the city trying to get the water cut.
A man driving a small truck stopped on an overpass to offer to unload water for the woman. When he did not get a response, he drove off. A short time later, another man stepped out of a