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Pasadena’s Water Conservation Efforts Result in City Using Same Amount of Water As In 1950’s – But With 35% More Residents

Published on Friday, August 12, 2022 | 6:06 am

Pasadenans used less water in June and July compared to the same months in each of the last five years, according to Pasadena Water and Power.

But the eight percent drop is less than the 15 percent goal, city officials said, prompting City Manager Cynthia Kurtz to ask the City Council to move up the winter one-day-per-week outdoor irrigation schedule by one month, to September 1.

“Since implementing the Level 2 Water Shortage Plan in August 2021, Pasadena has seen a system-wide reduction in water usage of about eight percent,” Kellee O’Rourke, Customer Relations Program Manager at PWP, said. 

“Collectively, with active water conservation efforts for over a decade, Pasadena uses about the same amount of water today as in the 1950s while supporting a 35 percent increase in population.” 

O’Rourke stressed that while PWP customers are making significant strides in conserving water, the community must expand its water conservation efforts in order to meet the city’s 15 percent water use reduction goal.

California is contending with unprecedented drought conditions, with the last three years setting the record as the driest three-year period in state history, she said. 

Along with severe to exceptional drought across the southwest United States, these conditions are significantly impacting water supplies, leading to critically low storage levels on the State Water Project and Colorado River systems, and declining local groundwater levels. 

O’Rourke said Lake Mead on the Colorado River system, the largest reservoir in the United States, is at a historic low. Lake Oroville, the largest reservoir in California’s State Water Project system, is at 40 percent of total capacity and 62 percent of historical average.

Among the additional steps that Pasadena could take to improve water conservation efforts, a plan to move up the city’s one-day-per-week outdoor irrigation schedule to September 1 is being considered at the Pasadena City Council, she said.

Since August of 2021, Pasadena has been implementing conservation actions under Level 2 of the Water Supply Shortage Plan. The plan restricts outdoor watering to two days per week from April to October and one day per week from November to March.

Last June the city also prohibited the irrigation of non-functional turf with potable water at commercial, industrial, and institutional sites, in compliance with the State Water Resource Control Board.

“PWP will also continue to support our service area in complying with the recent state emergency regulation prohibiting irrigation of non-functional turf with potable water at commercial, industrial, and institutional sites,” O’Rourke added.

In Los Angeles, residents were able to achieve an 11 percent reduction in water use in July. LA’s Department of Water and Power reported that this surpasses a record nine percent reduction achieved in the month of June. 

Like Pasadena, officials in Los Angeles are continuing to encourage residents to keep conserving water, as weather experts say the hottest and driest days of summer are yet to come. 

National Weather Service forecasters say a stubborn La Niña climate pattern, which is associated with drier conditions in the southwestern United States, may continue into 2023.

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