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Statewide drought emergency in California: Water agencies call for cutbacks

Even little clouds are welcome during droughts like California is experiencing.
Even little clouds are welcome during droughts like California is experiencing.
Laura Berthold Monteros

Foothill Municipal Water District (FMWD) and the City of Pasadena in separate emailed press releases called for increased water conservation in the communities they serve in response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s issuance of a drought emergency in mid-January.

Brown has called for a 20 percent cutback in water use in mid-January, after 2013 went down as the driest year on record in California, and the state anticipates that 2014 will continue to be dry. The water content of the snowpack is at 15 to 20 percent of normal, and state reservoirs are low because of previous dry years.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that effective Jan. 31, 2014, all of its State Water Project deliveries throughout California would be cut to zero for the year. The decision affects 29 public water agencies that buy State Water Project water for about 25 million Californians.

Southern California is especially hard-hit, as much of the water used here is imported from the north part of the state. FMWD, which supplies imported water to the foothill communities of La Crescenta, La Cañada Flintridge, and Altadena raised its conservation stage to green, and Pasadena Water and Power (PWP) is calling for voluntary compliance with Brown’s request.

Nina Jazmadarian, general manager of FMWD, reminded users that more than 60 percent of water is used outdoors, and can be conserved by limiting watering to every other day. PWP, which receives about 18 percent of its supply from the State Water Project through the Metropolitan Water District, is monitoring the situation and developing additional response plans. Due to strategic investments in water storage, PWP does not expect the cutbacks to have an immediate impact on customers.

Phyllis E. Currie, general manager of PWP, said “Our customers have always rallied during emergencies, conserving water citywide with impressive results. We’re counting on Pasadena to take the lead to permanently end water waste and support sustainable solutions.”

Other steps that customers can take to conserve as much water as possible include:

  • Turning off the tap when not needed
  • Taking shorter showers
  • Running only full loads of dishes and laundry
  • Sweep paved surfaces instead of hosing them down
  • Limit watering time to before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. for 10 minutes
  • Fixing leaks within 48 hours

FMWD has programs that offer rebates to customers who install devices that use water more efficiently. There are several options; consumers can get information at www.socalwatersmart.com or www.fmwd.com.

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