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Residents heed conservation call

Water use dropped more than 20% during voluntary irrigation ban, but the rain helped a lot.

April 06, 2011|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com

Local water agencies give credit to wet weather and genuine conservation efforts by many La Cañada Flintridge residents for significantly reducing water usage throughout the city during a recent 10-day cutoff of imported water supply.

The temporary closure of a Metropolitan Water District treatment plant for repairs prompted a voluntary ban on outdoor watering from March 18 to March 28.

During that time, demand for water fell 20% to 30% throughout the city — meaning a lot of residents did refrain from irrigating lawns and gardens, which accounts for the majority of the city’s water use.

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Local water officials also admit luck had a lot to do with it.

As if on cue, rain clouds and cooler temperatures fell upon the city shortly after the call for conservation began, eliminating much of the temptation for residents to sneak a few gallons for roses and other water-thirsty plants.

“There was conservation, but it was also rainy and cool. It’s hard to figure out how much was conservation and how much was the weather,” said Nina Jazmadarian, general manager of the Foothill Municipal Water District, which imports water from MWD for the four water agencies that serve La Cañada Flintridge: Valley Water Co., La Cañada Irrigation District, Mesa Crest Water Co. and Crescenta Valley Water District.

At Valley Water Co., which imports up to 75% of its water supply through MWD, usage appeared to drop about 25%, said Field Superintendent Dave Crocchi.

Valley Water customers, who each received water conservation thank-you notes with their monthly bills, used a little more than 11 million gallons during the 10-day ban instead of the usual 14 million expected during cooler weather. On warm days usage goes way up, as Valley Water saw a demand for 2.2 million gallons on Tuesday alone, Crocchi said.

The highest level of water conservation in the city is reported by the La Cañada Irrigation District, which according to General Manager Doug Caister saw demand drop by as much as 40%.

Before the 10-day ban, Irrigation District customers were using four acre feet (about 1.3 million gallons) per day. During the ban, usage dropped to about 2.6 acre feet per day, he said.

“It started raining the Friday of the shutdown and continued on and off through the weekend. That was a godsend. It worked out as best as it possibly could for us. Had it been warm, it might have been a different matter,” said Caister.

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