First published in the Aug. 11 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
Though most Californians are already voluntarily limiting water use due to a severe drought, La Cañada Flintridge residents are being asked by local water suppliers to make a grander effort and refrain from outdoor watering for 15 days next month.
Nina Jazmadarian, administrative manager of the Foothill Municipal Water District, went before the City Council Aug. 2 and asked stakeholders not to irrigate their lawns or wash vehicles from Sept. 6-20 as a pipe that supplies water from the Colorado River Aqueduct, a major water source for Southern California, is being repaired.
“We’re asking the people to defer irrigating their lawns for those 15 days,” Jazmadarian said. “Irrigate ahead of time, and then wait for 15 days, and then irrigate after that.”
The City Council voted 5-0 to adopt a resolution supporting the call to action from the Foothill Municipal Water District, or FMWD. City Manager Mark Alexander reminded council members that it is a resolution and not an ordinance. “So, it doesn’t have the effectiveness of enforcement.”
“We’re supporting all of the water conservation efforts of the Foothill Municipal Water District,” Mayor Keith Eich told the Outlook Valley Sun Wednesday. “As a partner of theirs, we will help spread the message. We already know the demand for water is higher than the supply, and so residents and businesses must do their part to find ways to mitigate this. These 15 days are critical.”
Members of the FWMD that supply water to LCF residents and businesses include the La Cañada Irrigation District, Valley Water Company, Liberty Utilities and Crescenta Valley Water District.
The pipeline leak was discovered in April and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, or MWD, temporarily fixed the issue. However, the water flow declined from 750 cubic feet per second to 525 and the agency is moving swiftly to repair the pipe as the region faces severe to extreme drought.
“This pipe is about 10 feet in diameter, and it’s over the Santa Ana River,” Jazmadrian said. “So, it’s a problem to repair. What’s going to be happening is that there is going to be a shutdown starting Sept. 6 for 15 days to repair the pipe. They have to manufacture this pipe to be able to repair it.”
Ninety percent of the city’s water supply is imported, and the rest comes from groundwater, such as precipitation and canyon flows.
During a presentation to the council, Jazmadarian said the state has seen the “three driest consecutive years on record” from 2020 to 2022, limiting the groundwater supply. A shortage was declared on the Colorado River Aqueduct and there are “limited releases from Lake Powell to Lake Mead, which is where we get our supplies from,” she said.
“Not only does that cause a problem for us as far as water supplies, but also as far as hydropower goes,” she added. “So, our electricity is also being impacted.”
With the pipeline shut off for just over two weeks, Southern California will rely on water from the State Water Project, which delivers water from Northern California to water-scarce areas throughout the state, but even that source is limited as state officials slashed the amount of water allocated to 5% — a figure that is 10 percentage points fewer than the previous allocation — because of the extreme drought conditions this year.
“We’re taking water from the State Water Project and from people that really need it,” said Jazmadarian, who encouraged LCF residents to take advantage of several rebates offered by MWD and FMWD that will help conserve water. “We have to protect the people that live around us, and so anything that people can do to conserve water would be appreciated.”
Residents will need to adjust their sprinkler systems to adhere to the temporary restrictions, and Eich suggested that those unsure of how to operate their watering systems should coordinate with their landscapers as well as their water supplier.