Nov 18, 2008

Long Beach, Calif., Hits 10-Year Water Use Low

Imminent water shortage has prompted water department to take extraordinary conservation measures

The Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners has announced that Long Beach, Calif., water demand for October 2008 has set a new record 10-year low. Long Beach water use for October 2008 was 9.5% below the historical 10-year average ('98-'07) water use. October 2008 water use was 9% below October 2007. Early last month, the Board announced that the city had set a new record 10-year low for fiscal year 2008, which ended Sept. 30. That announcement meant that the city had consumed less water in fiscal year 2008, than in any other year over the past decade.

The Long Beach Water Department is in its second year of extraordinary, mandatory water conservation due to an imminent water supply shortage in southern California. October 2008 is the 10th record-setting month for low water use since the Board of Water Commissioners' declaration of imminent water supply shortage in September 2007.

"Waste not, want not," said John Allen, president of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. "Again, every gallon we don't use is a gallon we leave in storage. This is an idea that should have been embraced months ago by every community in southern California. We have been using our storage to water our landscapes, and that storage is at historic low levels as we head into what may very well be another dry year." The collective storage level of Lake Shasta, Lake Oroville and San Luis Reservoir, the feeders to the State Water Project, are the lowest they've been since 1977. This is a primary reason for the State Department of Water Resources' recent announcement that water deliveries from northern California to the Central Valley, and on to southern California, may be 85% below what is being requested for these regions next year.

"We have got to move quickly as a region to take a firm stand on this," added Kevin L. Wattier, general manager of the Long Beach Water Department. "Even if we have average rainfall this year, the reality is that we no longer have enough water to meet demand here in southern California, even in normal hydrologic years. Every city in southern California needs to implement mandatory prohibitions on certain outdoor uses of water, and make those prohibitions permanent."