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Owners of thirsty lawns, beware. The water cops are here.

As a drought grips Los Angeles, the city sends its 'Drought Busters' out to teach citizens to save water.

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"Who ya gonna call?"

The famous buzz phrase from the 1984 movie, "Ghostbusters" is being heard on the lips of Los Angeles water officials grappling with two of the driest years in the city's history.

Their answer: "drought busters."

The program, which helped cut water use by about 30 percent during a drought in the 1990s, comes as the entire state takes step to conserve water.

A federal judge has told state water authorities to cut up to 30 percent of their usual deliveries, starting next month, to protect endangered fish. Last week, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced it was buying water from farmers in the state's Central Valley. San Diego has announced a similar deal with farmers in the Imperial Valley. Hundreds of farmers are idling fields, and manufacturers such as silicon-chip makers are rethinking water processes.

And then there's Richard Crossley and his 15 colleagues. Each "water cop" drives a white Toyota Prius (complete with "Drought buster" logo) and wields a polite smile, handshake, and an armload of bulging information packets.

"Hi, I'm with the Department of Water and Power, and as I was driving by, I noticed a lot of overspray into the street," says Mr. Crossley to Margarita Rojas, a housekeeper who answers the door of a house on Norton Avenue. The sidewalk in front of the house is soaked, and a two-inch-deep puddle of water has gathered.

"Maybe you can inform the gardener to taper down those sprinkler heads," says Crossley gently, as he hands Ms. Rojas a packet of pamphlets.


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