Drought - Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Calling the regional drought a major emergency in need of long-term regional solutions, the Los Angeles City Council Wednesday requested a series of reports on projected municipal water supplies and expansion of efforts to recycle water and support long-term conservation.

“We keep talking about drought and, honestly, we’re past talking about drought, because drought implies temporary cycles,” Councilman Paul Krekorian said. “Water shortages in Southern California are endemic, long-lasting, almost certainly permanent.

“… This is more than just a temporary inconvenience of not being able to water our lawns as often,” he said.

The council unanimously approved a motion asking for reports from the city’s Department of Water and Power and the Metropolitan Water District — Southern California’s regional water wholesaler — on a variety of topics, most notably on current and projected drought conditions and efforts to increase water supplies through recycling and conservation measures.

The council also called for reports on the impact the drought is having on hydroelectric resources locally, and its potential implications for the city’s “LA100” goal of achieving 100% carbon-neutrality by 2035.

“There is great urgency to take a more proactive approach to conserving water, which is why my colleagues and I introduced this motion,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said in a statement. “We are not going to shy away from our responsibility in facing the challenge before us, and we will make sure that we do everything we can to address this emergency, conserve water, improve infrastructure, and protect ratepayers’ dollars.”

The reports will be heard by the council’s Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River Committee, which is chaired by O’Farrell.

Los Angeles is in Phase 3 of its water conservation ordinance, limiting residents to two-day per week outdoor watering schedules based on street addresses.

Outdoor watering is restricted to two days per week, with watering permitted at odd-numbered street addresses on Mondays and Fridays, and at even-numbered addresses on Thursdays and Sundays.

Watering with sprinklers is limited to eight minutes per station. Sprinklers with water-conserving nozzles are limited to 15 minutes per station. All watering must be done in the evening or early morning, with no watering permitted outdoors between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The city also urged residents with pools to use pool covers to reduce the risk of evaporation, and called on people to wash their vehicles only at commercial car wash facilities.

Many people outside the city are restricted to one-day per week watering under rules imposed by the MWD. That restriction applies to the district’s member agencies that are heavily dependent on supplies from the State Water Project, but the agency has also called on all Southern California residents and businesses to slash water use by 30% to combat drought conditions.

The State Water Resources Control Board recently voted to ban watering of non-functional turf at commercial, industrial and institutional properties.

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