Marysville Appeal-Democrat

What Socal water restrictio­ns will look like

New rules take effect June 1

- Tribune News Service Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — More than a week after the Metropolit­an Water District of Southern California announced its harshest-ever water restrictio­ns for millions of residents across the region, several of the affected water agencies are offering a preview of how life will change throughout Southland when the rules kick in June 1.

The restrictio­ns target areas that rely heavily or entirely on the State Water

Project, a Northern California water supply that officials say is dangerousl­y low after the state’s driest-ever start to the year. The plan was designed to achieve at least a 35% reduction in water consumptio­n, shrinking usage to about 80 gallons per person per day, which can be done through volumetric allocation­s or one-day-a-week watering limitation­s.

MWD’S largest member agency, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, has so far offered few details about how the restrictio­ns will be applied to their customers, but said more informatio­n will be provided

in the coming days.

“Just like other affected agencies, the City of L.A. will determine how it will comply,” LADWP officials said in a statement, adding that they are gathering more informatio­n before making a recommenda­tion to Mayor Eric Garcetti in compliance with city ordinances. “There is no doubt that a third year of drought and record dry conditions require everyone in Southern California to continue to cut back further on their water use.”

But LADWP is only one of six Mwd-member agencies affected by the new rules. Some, including the San Bernardino-based Inland Empire Utilities Agency, are themselves wholesaler­s who are working with their own member agencies to determine the best path forward.

IEUA general manager Shivaji Deshmukh said the seven major retailers to whom they provide water are each “taking a slightly different approach because each region is different.”

“Some may be heavier when it comes to outdoor use, some may be focused on agricultur­e, some may be purely residentia­l, so we don’t want to apply the same rule to each different customer when we felt we could achieve real water savings with a tailor-made approach depending on each community,” he said.

About two-thirds of IEUA’S water comes from local supplies — including recycled water and groundwate­r — and about one-third is purchased from the State Water Project via MWD, Deshmukh said. In all, their service area includes just under 900,000 people in areas such as Chino, Fontana and Ontario.

Given the choice between one-day-a-week watering and volumetric limits, he said, “we felt we wanted to go with the latter, because embedded in that, we can allow each retailer to do what’s best for their service area.”

Deshmukh said IEUA has also made great strides when it comes to investing in local supplies, including projects to expand wastewater treatment facilities and future plans for additional recycled water, extraction wells and conveyance infrastruc­ture with the help of state loans and funds.

“We built our water transmissi­on systems throughout the West on the hydrology of the past 100 years, and with things changing, we need to be adapting to that,” he said.

Per capita water use in the area — which includes use for agricultur­e and dairy sectors — is around 170 gallons per person per day, but residentia­l numbers, which are tracked by each retailer, are likely lower, he said. Fines imposed by MWD for exceeded allocation­s will in turn be passed down to the appropriat­e retailers, he added.

Meanwhile, the Calleguas

Municipal Water District, also a wholesaler, has taken a similar approach, but is more limited in its flexibilit­y because virtually all of its water is from the State Water Project, with only a small fraction from the Colorado River.

“What we’re experienci­ng right now, this drought, is the worst drought in the history of the State Water Project and in the history of importing water to the Calleguas service area,” said resources manager Dan Drugan.

Calleguas serves 19 water agencies which cover cities in Southeast Ventura County, including Thousand Oaks, Moorpark and Oxnard, and some unincorpor­ated areas.

Like IEUA, Calleguas plans to “effectivel­y pass through the same plan that Metropolit­an put in place for all of its own member agencies” to the retailers they serve, Drugan said. Some are already mobilizing.

“They’ve seen it, they know that it’s coming, and so they’re moving forward with their own adoption ordinances and resolution­s to move to that one-day-a-week watering,” he said. “But they will also have the option of that alternativ­e path, where it’s a volumetric reduction based on the available state water that Metropolit­an will provide to Calleguas, and we in turn would provide that to the purveyors.”

Drugan said the average annual per capita water use in the Calleguas service area is about 165 gallons per day, but can climb to 175 in the hot, dry summer months.

“This is a big change,” he said. “This is a sudden change. We’re dealing with climate change, and we need folks to change their water use habits with us. That will also involve changing landscapin­g, and so this is all about change right now. And it’s something that we have to continue to work together on throughout the rest of this year.”

Also covered by MWD’S rules is the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, which provides water to 26 retailers in areas such as Arcadia, Covina, El Monte, Monrovia and South Pasadena.

Agency spokeswoma­n Patty Cortez said about 80% of their water comes from groundwate­r, and about 20% is imported from the State Water Project via MWD.

“For us, it’s looked at as replenishm­ent water,” she said. “But when you have our groundwate­r basin levels as low as they are because we haven’t had local rain and snow to also help with that replenishm­ent, there is a heavier dependence on state water just to keep our groundwate­r basin within that safe operating yield.”

Because of that, “to not do anything is not an option for us,” Cortez said. “We’ve asked our retailers to look into going to two days a week with a 20% reduction.”

The reduction, which will go before their board May 11, would mark another tightening for the area, which reduced its daily demand from about 200 gallons per capita prior to the 2014 drought to about 140 gallons during the last five years, according to Cortez.

“I think this is a good success story that our region has been able to keep that lower demand due to the investment­s our agency and retailers have made in conservati­on outreach and local water project investment­s such as recycled water,” she said.

Meanwhile, the nearby Three Valleys Municipal Water District has declared a Level 5 emergency for two cities dependent on State Water Project supplies, Claremont and La Verne, according to chief water resources officer Sylvie Lee.

The declaratio­n calls for 50% conservati­on with one-day-a-week watering restrictio­ns, and “provides the local retail water agencies the flexibilit­y to implement conservati­on measures that is best suited for their service area,” Lee said. Claremont’s local service provider is Golden State Water Co., while the city of La Verne operates its own distributi­on system.

In all, Three Valleys provides water to 13 agencies in Pomona, Walnut and the East San Gabriel Valleys, and is recommendi­ng at least a 30% reduction across its entire service area.

During the previous drought, some Los Angeles neighborho­ods were criticized for maintainin­g their green, grassy lawns — including the celebrity enclave of Calabasas.

Calabasas, along with Agoura Hills, Hidden

Hills and Westlake Village, is covered by the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, which serves about 75,000 residents in those areas. But the agency has already made plans for enforcing the new rules from MWD, according to spokesman Mike Mcnutt.

Las Virgenes plans to divvy up watering days among even- and oddnumbere­d addresses, and then send patrols through the area to ensure that people are complying, Mcnutt said. They’re also going to keep an eye out for waste, such as water that’s flowing into gutters.

Residents who are not complying will be given door-tag warnings for their first offense, with penalties escalating from there, Mcnutt said. After three offenses exceeding 150% of the water budget, the agency would be able to install flow-restrictio­n devices.

“It’s not meant to be punitive. It’s meant to get people to understand that this is serious,” he said.

The change will likely be sobering for many people: On average, each residentia­l customer in the area uses approximat­ely 227 gallons of water per day, Mcnutt said.

 ?? Tribune News Service/los Angeles Times ?? The California Aqueduct flows through Palmdale on Monday. The Metropolit­an Water District of Southern California recently announced its harshest-ever water restrictio­ns for millions of residents across the region.
Tribune News Service/los Angeles Times The California Aqueduct flows through Palmdale on Monday. The Metropolit­an Water District of Southern California recently announced its harshest-ever water restrictio­ns for millions of residents across the region.

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