It’s the City’s progressive water conservation program, the goal of which is to reduce average daily per capita water use (the amount of water that each Long Beach resident uses on average, each day) in Long Beach to 100 gallons or less by the end of 2011, the same year as the Long Beach Water Department’s (LBWD) 100th anniversary.
The City of Long Beach purchases 40 percent of its water supply from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). During the summer of 2010, the MWD Board of Directors voted to guarantee the water supply of any MWD member agency (including the City of Long Beach) that reduces the daily per capita water use in its service area to 100 gallons or less.
As of October 1, 2010 the City’s daily per capita water use was calculated to be approximately 102 gallons. That means the City only needs an additional two percent reduction in citywide water use to reach the 100 gallon mark. It would be an incredible asset (and milestone) for the City of Long Beach to have a water supply that is considered to be completely reliable.
As stated above, the City of Long Beach currently imports 40 percent of its water supply from external sources. The two main sources of imported water that come into Long Beach are from the Colorado River watershed and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta.
These sources, which are located hundreds of miles away, are becoming increasingly unreliable. In recent years, they have been severely impacted by ongoing drought and restrictive environmental regulations, so that the amount of water that is annually available to southern California has been permanently reduced.
The Colorado River watershed has experienced drought in 11 of the last 12 years. In ten years, the water elevation in Lake Mead, a primary reservoir on the Colorado River, has dropped more than 130 feet and has gone from being 96 percent full to less than 40 percent full. On October 17, 2010, the water elevation in Lake Mead dropped to its lowest level ever since the completion of the Hoover Dam in 1937. Further drops in the water elevation at Lake Mead would eventually lead to water being withheld from the states of Nevada, Arizona and California.
The Bay Delta has experienced water supply reliability problems of its own recently due to multiple environmental court rulings that all serve to restrict how much water can be pumped out of the Delta and transported to the rest of the state. Over the last three years, the average final allocation for the State Water Project, which supplies much of southern California with its water, was less than 42 percent. It is anyone’s guess as to when, if ever, these environmental regulations will be lifted.
As a result, southern California has entered a new era where imported water can no longer be depended upon as it was in the past. Residents cannot sit idly by, hoping that others will solve the water crisis for them. Instead, individuals must proactively change their water use habits so that wasteful and inefficient uses of water are no longer accepted as socially responsible behaviors.
The only immediate and cost-effective solution that we have to address California’s precarious water situation is to permanently reduce our water consumption. We really have no other choice.
The good news is that we are very close. Once Long Beach has achieved its goal of reducing daily per capita water use to 100 gallons, the City will be one of the only cities that will be well protected from future water shortages that are likely to continue to plague the southern California region for the foreseeable future.
The program’s ultimate success will depend on four main factors:
It won’t take much to cut your water use by 2 percent to help reach the 100 by 100 goal. It can be as simple as shortening your daily shower by 1 or 2 minutes to turning your sprinklers off for a week after it rains. There are many simple changes that you and your family can make that will make a difference.
However, for those Long Beach residents that really want to put a dent in their water consumption, there are a number of ways that the Water Department can help you conserve more water.
The first thing you may want to consider is ripping out your grass thirsty lawn and replacing it with a drought-tolerant, California friendly landscape. In April 2010, the Water Department offered a $2.50/sq. ft. rebate that was quickly grabbed by more than 300 enthusiastic customers. Additional rebates may be offered in the near future. Even if you aren’t able to get a rebate, there are plenty of available resources to help you with your landscape conversion.
Please visit the Beautiful Long Beach Lawn to Garden website find more details about turning your lawn into a Beautiful Long Beach Garden.
Finally, residents or businesses should feel free to request a home or business water audit, which often times help uncover multiple areas of inefficient water practices, such as leaky toilets or malfunctioning sprinklers, which can really add up over time.
Thank you for doing your part to help the City of Long Beach attain its 100 by 100 goal. Make sure to stay tuned in for future announcements about the progress of the initiative.
Please feel free to send in your own personal stories about what you are doing to make a difference. We would love to share them with others. Please email your stories to Matthew Veeh or mail them to:
Long Beach Water Department
1800 East Wardlow Road
Long Beach, CA 90807