In Los Angeles, the Grass Isn’t Always Greener This Year

Erin Brockovich made her name decades ago as an environmental activist who exposed corporate wrongdoing that polluted drinking water.

So she felt a bit defensive when a television reporter asked how her name landed on a list of water guzzlers during a dire California drought. At one point last year, she received a $1,700 bill for two months of water and fines.

Ms. Brockovich ultimately decided she had to get rid of her lawn, a central part of the backyard oasis she had built over more than two decades living in Agoura Hills, a suburb of large homes with immaculate yards about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. She replaced 3,100 square feet of grass with high-tech artificial turf.

Two LA Cities Are Innovating Their Way Out of Severe Drought Restrictions

There are two schools of thought on how to navigate the West’s historic drought: Use less water or find new ways to make more of it usable. A few cities are trying to do both, and so far, it’s spared them from some of the most stringent drought restrictions.

In the last drought, Santa Monica used to rely heavily on water imported from Northern California. But now less than half of Santa Monica’s water is imported, which spared them from the mandatory outdoor water restrictions that began at the beginning of June.