Los Angeles waterslide plan draws protests during drought

LOS ANGELES Wed Aug 20, 2014 7:20pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Plans to set up a three-block-long "slip 'n slide" in Los Angeles next month have drawn the ire of conservationists who say splashing up to 16,000 gallons of water down it during a severe drought is frivolous and irresponsible.

Organizers of the one-day event say that represents only a small fraction of the city's daily water use. But their defense has done little to win over the nearly 10,000 critics who have signed an online petition calling for the idea to be scrapped.

Michelle Vargas, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Water and Power, said the water used for the slide equals the amount used by 180 residents in a single day.

"We don't believe it's consistent with the water conservation lifestyle in Los Angeles," she said. Overall, Los Angeles uses about 500 million gallons daily.

Opponents hope to grab the attention of officials at City Hall, who are still reviewing the permit for the Sept. 27 event and will consider opinions from the local community.

"This water slide makes NO sense," wrote one person backing the petition. Another commented: "This is very much the wrong message to be sending during times of drought."

Event co-founder T.R. Gourley said the water used in the slide will be collected and later used to douse the fields at Griffith Park, one of city’s biggest outdoor public spaces.

"We're very conscientious and only use a certain amount of water," he said. His company, Slide the City, visited Salt Lake City in July, and heads to Boise, Idaho, later this month. He hopes to reach several other cities later this year.

Orange County resident Doug Poor launched a separate petition supporting the event, which has so far drawn about 200 signatures.

"I'm all for saving water," he said. "They do reclaim the water, so why not keep it going?"

Last month California began issuing citations up to $500 for excessive outdoor watering, such as hosing down sidewalks and soaking lawns, in a bid to conserve resources during one of the worst dry spells on record.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, about 80 percent of California has been hit with "extreme drought" this year.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Beech)

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