Water officials urge conservation as drought continues

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LOS ANGELES — Ahead of World Water Day March 22, Metropolitan Water District officials urged conservation during a gathering March 21 at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants, where people in the L.A. region can purchase native plants accustomed to the region’s dry weather and which require 85% less water than grass.

“Tomorrow is World Water Day, a reminder to us all about the value of this precious resource,” MWD board Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray said. “If you don’t use your grass, if it is just there to look pretty, please consider instead the beauty of native and California-friendly plants. Not only are they beautiful and save water, they also create important ecosystems for birds and butterflies.”

According to the Metropolitan Water District, turning a 1,500 square-foot lawn into a water-efficient landscape can save 51,000 gallons of water every year.

People who replace their grass with water-efficient landscaping can receive a rebate of $2 per square foot from the MWD, Southern California’s water wholesaler. Rebates also are available from other local water agencies.

The rebate program has helped remove 200 million square feet of grass, which has saved enough water to provide about 62,000 homes with water each year, officials said.

Along with reducing water use for lawns, officials urge residents and businesses to fix any leaky sprinkler heads and to adjust them to avoid over-spraying into areas that don’t have plants.

“We have to make these finite supplies last the entire year,” Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said. “If we don’t cut back now, we could be limited to providing only enough water to meet health and human safety needs in these communities. That would effectively eliminate all outdoor water use. Let’s all heed the urgent call for conservation and proactively reduce unnecessary water use.”

Officials last week reiterated the need for customers to conserve water after the California Department of Water Resources announced that allocations from the State Water Project will be reduced to just 5%.

The reduction to 5% from the previously announced 15% comes after a historically dry start to the year, the department said.

State officials said state reservoir levels are about 70% of the average, and Sierra snowpack throughout the state has fallen to 55% of the average for the date. State officials will conduct another snow survey on April 1, and a final allocation for the water year will likely be announced in May or June.

“California is well into its third year of drought and with winter ending in a very dry way, water conditions will get more challenging in coming months,” California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said March 21. “We all need to do our part to conserve water and use it as efficiently as possible — and make this our way of life. The state’s Save Our Water campaign can help Californians makes these changes with updated information and easy and actionable water-saving tips.”

“We want to stress to our residential and commercial customers the dire situation we are now facing in the third dry year and serious drought,” said Anselmo Collins, senior assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s water system. “We urge everyone to take a closer look at how they are using water inside and outside their home and take the necessary steps to cut down on usage.

“We are closely monitoring supply conditions and may call for additional measures to step up conservation, should that become necessary.”

“We are experiencing climate change whiplash in real time with extreme swings between wet and dry conditions, said Karla Nemeth, director of the state Department of Water Resources. “That means adjusting quickly based on the data and the science.

“While we had hoped for more rain and snow, … we are continuing with a series of actions to balance the needs of endangered species, water supply conservation and water deliveries for millions of Californians.”

 

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