Officials urge water conservation amid drought conditions

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LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti is urging Angelenos to reduce water usage by 15%, as first requested by Gov. Gavin Newsom, amid a severe drought in California and throughout the western United States.

Speaking July 16 from Owens Valley, which has provided water to the Los Angeles Aqueduct since 1913, Garcetti said, “In Los Angeles, conservation is a way of life, because we know that living with limited water resources isn’t just a phase — it’s the new normal.”

Angelenos have always stepped up when asked to lower their water use, and today, I’m asking them to do their part again to meet this new statewide goal. [The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power] has made it easier than ever before for Angelenos to save water, and we’re in a better position today because of it,” he said.

Garcetti highlighted drought resiliency efforts by the DWP and the city’s pledge that by 2035 it will: reduce per capita water consumption by 25%, source 70% of the city’s water locally, recycle 100% of the city’s wastewater by 2035 for potable use and capture 150,000 acre-feet of stormwater per year by 2035.

The city also pledges to reduce LADWP’s purchase of imported water by 50% by 2025.

Newsom called on Californians on July 8 to voluntarily reduce water use by 15% to protect the state’s water reserves and maintain water flow for fish and wildlife.

The realities of climate change are nowhere more apparent than in the increasingly frequent and severe drought challenges we face in the West and their devastating impacts on our communities, businesses and ecosystems,” the governor said. “The entire state is in a drought today, and to meet this urgent challenge we must all pull together and do our part to reduce water use as California continues to build a more climate resilient water system to safeguard the future of our state.”

Scaling back urban water consumption by 15% would save as much as 850,000 acre-feet of water over the next year, which is enough to supply more than 1.7 million households with water for a year, according to Newsom’s office.

Newsom drought-emergency proclamation July 8 added nine more counties to the list of counties considered to be effected by water shortages, meaning that 50 of the state’s 58 counties are covered by the proclamation, accounting for 42% of the overall population.

The only counties not covered by the proclamation are Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Imperial, Ventura and San Francisco.

Although Southern California is excluded from the proclamation, the general manager of the region’s water wholesaler said residents need to do their part in reducing water use.

“Southern California must be part of the statewide movement to address the significant water supply challenges created by drought and climate change,” Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California, said in a statement. “We are one when it comes to water, and our state’s river ecosystems and snowpack-reliant supplies are under greater and greater stress.

The governor’s call for the public to voluntarily cut back water use by 15% demonstrates the seriousness of this growing drought yet preserves the flexibility local managers need,” Hagekhalil said. “Southern Californians have done a great job maintaining lower water use since the last drought, yet this drought demands that we all re-examine and renew our water-saving habits and do everything we can to use this precious resource as wisely as possible.”

Two members of the Los Angeles City Council have called for the DWP and MWD to develop water resilience strategies during the drought.

Councilmen Paul Koretz and Mitch O’Farrell introduced a motion last month that a review on the pending update to the Colorado River Compact, a 1922 agreement between states, native tribes and jurisdictions in the Southwest that govern the allocation of Colorado River water rights. The agreement hasn’t been updated in nearly a century, but a drought contingency plan was put into place in 2019 by seven Colorado River Basin states, local water agencies, non-governmental organizations, Mexico and the U.S. Department of the Interior in an effort to protect the river.

“Given the enormity of the alarming drought crisis across the Southwest, we need to do everything we can sooner rather than later to protect the future of our great city,” Koretz said. “We are at a critical juncture with new leadership at MWD, the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan in place and rapidly worsening climate breakdown occurring all around us.

“Now we must work collaboratively with our partners across the Southwest toward a healthy, resilient tomorrow.”

“Los Angeles is leading the way on sustainability and environmental initiatives, and we must lead the way on addressing our worsening drought conditions,” O’Farrell added.

Angelenos who want help conserving water can take advantage of the city’s financial incentive program, including rebates for high-efficiency clothes washers and turf replacements. The city also provides free efficient faucet aerators and shower heads. More information is available at https://bit.ly/3eshDW9.

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