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Take Five: Conserving precious water is everyone's duty

March 09, 2011|By Gene Pepper

“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” — “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Coleridge.

Unlike the poor, thirsty ancient Mariner, we’ve always had a plentiful supply, but water may be the commodity most taken for granted and the most precious and dangerously periled life-sustaining force we have.

The general manager of La Cañada Irrigation District, Doug Caister, born and raised in La Cañada, knows that our water supply is not infinite. I talked with Doug, who has been on the job for an astonishing 54 years. It’s the only job he’s ever had. He’s a real pro. One of the best managers any city could hope for.

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He spoke about the forthcoming conservation program, which will be in place from March 18 to March 28. Outside irrigation will be prohibited for those 10 days, though insideusage will still be allowed. This drastic shutoff is the most severe step in Doug’s longtime career.

“It’s darn troubling. Our imported water sources are drying up. We have to face the harsh truth,” Doug says, a few times, during our interview.

The line that provides water to the area will be shut down for maintenance. One of the major feed-system processing facilities located in La Verne will be closed for retrofitting. Doug recommended that this closure take place earlier this year during the rainy season—he knows the negative effect it would have on grass, plants, flowers and trees—but the La Verne plant wasn’t ready for the installation of the new technology.

During the closure, the center medians on Foothill Blvd., as well asparks, schools, church properties and residential backyards are not permitted to be irrigated. There will be no hosing of driveways or patios allowed and all automatic sprinklers must remain off.

We have all seen the small, neat building on Foothill Blvd. next to Armstrong’s Nursery. Inside are glass-enclosed dials that measure water levels in the reservoirs that feed La Cañada Flintridge. These same instruments can register if backyard watering occurs during the 10-day prohibition.

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