Unprecedented water restrictions hit Southern California

Get ready for brief showers and brown lawns: More than 6 million Southern Californians will be subject to new drought rules today in an unprecedented effort to conserve water.

The restrictions are a response to the Southern California Water Municipality’s urgent call to cut water use by 35% after California’s driest start to date. MWD’s board has never made such drastic cuts before, but says it can no longer afford it after state officials cut deliveries from the State Water Project to just 5% left.

MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said: “We don’t have the supplies to meet the usual needs we have, and now we need to prioritize between watering our lawns and watering our lawns. water for our children and grandchildren and livelihoods and health,” said MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil during the agency’s operations. announced at the end of April.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 97% of states are currently experiencing severe, extreme, or extreme drought. Many of the region’s most important reservoirs are at half capacity or less.

Here’s what you need to know about the new rules starting today, June 1:

Who is affected?

As a wholesaler, MWD has aimed to cut areas of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties reliant on supplies from the State Water Project, a vast network of channels. , pipelines, reservoirs, and pumping facilities that transport water from rivers in Northern California. to the farmlands and cities in the south.

Six agencies receiving water from MWD will be affected by the rules: Los Angeles Department of Water and Electricity, Empire Domestic Utilities Authority, Las Virgenes City Water District, Calleguas City Water District, Ba Thung City Water District Valley and Upper San Gabriel Valley City Water District.

Some of these agents are wholesalers that supply water to dozens of smaller regional suppliers.

Areas that draw water from another major source in the region, the Colorado River, are now gone, although officials have warned that it is also reaching its lowest point.

What are the rules?

Each agency is taking a slightly different approach to achieving the required reductions, which means there is a patchwork of rules across the region. Most focus on limiting outdoor watering as it accounts for about half of urban water use.

MWD’s largest member agency, LADWP, is limiting its entire service area – that is, nearly everyone in the city of LA – to watering only two days a week to just 8 minutes per station per day. day, or two 15-minute cycles per day watering the sprinklers with water-saving sprinklers.

Residents will be assigned watering dates based on their address: Monday and Friday for odd addresses and Thursday and Sunday for even addresses. No watering is allowed between 9am and 4pm regardless of the watering date.

Officials say those who fail to comply with the new rules will receive a warning, followed by an escalating fine for each subsequent violation. LADWP will increase patrols to look for people who break the rules or waste water.

Several agencies, including the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, are going a step further and choosing to limit watering to one day a week. That agency provides water to about 75,000 residents in Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Hidden Hills and Westlake Village.

Others, including the Inland Empire Utilities Authority and the Ventura-based Calleguas City Water District, both wholesalers, are tapping each of their member agencies to come up with the best plans. for their area. Officials say some will conduct watering one day a week, while others follow a volumetric allocation based on available supplies.

The West Basin City Water District, which supplies water to residents in areas including Culver City, El Segundo, Inglewood and Palos Verdes Estates and Malibu, is also calling for a two-day-a-week watering limit in the area. its business.

Are there exceptions to the rules?

Most agencies, including the DWP, are making exceptions to manual and drip irrigation for food supplies.

What about trees, pools and golf courses?

Although officials have said Southern California “can’t get green lawns,” they insist they don’t want the trees to die. Trees provide valuable shade, replenish groundwater, and help block the effects of heat, among other benefits.

Fortunately, experts say the new drought restrictions won’t affect trees if followed properly.

“Even the most delicate of plants can have fun with eight minutes twice a week, and larger plants will be content with occasional heavy hand watering,” says certified master horticulturist. board Nick Araya told The Times.

Swimming pools are also a question for many in the area. Under current regulations, most water authorities recommend – but have not yet required – the use of pool covers to prevent evaporation.

The DWP, for example, said only the next phase of its drought ordinance would make covering residential pools a requirement, while the final phase, Phase 5, would ban overfilling. water on them.

Some residents say the pool’s lax regulations are sending a mixed message, but California Pool & Spa. Assn. say they’re right: While the average pool requires 14,000 to 18,000 gallons of water to fill initially, pools can help conserve water over time by replacing hay that requires constant watering.

Many residents also point out that golf courses make up a large amount of grass in the city, but officials say several golf courses – both private and municipal – Use recycled water. Courses are not required to work with the city to achieve the reduction goal.

And while showers aren’t officially within the boundaries of the cuts, people are being asked to conserve water wherever they can, including in the shower. State officials last month encouraged Californians to shorten showers to five minutes and move away from tubs, which could use 2.5 times as much water.

What is the long-term plan?

MWD officials have said they are authorized to introduce a total ban on outdoor watering as early as September if conservation efforts do not improve, and Governor Gavin Newsom last week said the state could be forced to Mandatory restrictions apply for the same reason.

While the new outdoor watering limits should provide immediate savings, some have pointed out that they are a short-term solution to what will likely be a long-term problem.

“With climate change, this is not a temporary drought,” Councilmember Paul Krekorian said during last week’s LA City Council meeting about the ordinance. “This is our future, and those dark red areas [on the U.S. Drought Monitor map] will become larger. ”

City, county, and state officials are working toward solutions, including improving water infrastructure and systems, as well as investing in enhanced capabilities to treat groundwater, collect rainwater collection and water recycling.

One major initiative, Activity Next, aims to recycle 100% of the purified wastewater from the Hyperion Water Recycling Plant by 2035.

Los Angeles is also investing heavily in rebates for lawn replacements and equipment upgrades to improve residents’ water efficiency, and last week the state banned ‘non-functional’ lawn irrigation. in commercial, industrial and institutional areas.

And while the new MWD drought rules are aimed primarily at urban users, officials have acknowledged that much of the state’s water that humans use is for agriculture – up to 80%. Many farmers this year have been told they will also receive limited allocations from state and federal suppliers.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-01/southern-california-new-drought-rules-june-2022 Unprecedented water restrictions hit Southern California

Edmund DeMarche

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