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CBS2 Investigation On Federal Water Waste In SoCal Prompts Lawmaker To Take Action

LOS ANGELES ( — A lawmaker is demanding action after a CBS2 investigation revealed huge waste at federal buildings in Southern California while the rest of the state is forced to conserve.

Investigative reporter David Goldstein spoke Tuesday to Congresswoman Janice Hahn, who said she was shocked and embarrassed by what he and his team found with hidden cameras. Federal properties, including the Veteran Affairs facilities in Brentwood and Loma Linda, were caught watering lawns for hours despite California's drought crisis.

Hahn, who represents the 44th district of California in San Pedro, serves on the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Development.

She says she's written the head of Veteran Affairs to ask that the department stop wasting the state's precious resource: "I wanted to number one, bring it to his attention, based on your report, that this was a shocking abuse of water usage. And that the V.A. and all federal properties should adhere to the local water ordinances."

CBS2 set up a time-lapse camera and showed the sprinklers in use for more than two hours, even though water restrictions say they should be used no more than eight minutes per day. V.A. public affairs officer Lina Satele caught wind of the report and threatened to take CBS2's cameras away.

"Can you shut that off? Or I am going to have to confiscate your cameras," Satele is seen saying on camera.

"No, you won't," Goldstein replied.

"I need you to stop," she said.

Goldstein held firm: "No, he's not going to stop."

Hahn saw Thursday's report on KCBS-TV and said it could have been handled better: "I was embarrassed by that. It never looks good to run away from a camera. It never looks good to stop the press."

The congresswoman says she wrote a letter about CBS2's findings to V.A. Secretary Robert McDonald, which said, in part: "I call on you to ensure that V.A. facilities do their part and conserve water."

"Our lawns are brown, and we consider that a badge of honor," she said. "So, for the V.A. to be so blatantly callous toward water usage, particularly when we're in the worst drought we've ever had, was really disappointing."

Hahn says she expects the V.A. to start complying with California's mandatory water restrictions now that the department has been exposed as a water waster.

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