Malibuites Get Their First Taste of SoCal Water Conservation Mindset
• Some Wonder If This Is First Indicator of Drought’s Impact
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
Communities throughout the Southland are talking about stringent water conservation measures, but Malibuites have been relatively immune from what water supply experts expect to be a long-term shortage.
While other communities talk about landscape watering restrictions and regulating the washing of cars, Malibu residents served by the Metropolitan Water District are facing their first official request to monitor local usage.
The MWD is requesting that all Malibu residents conserve water between Saturday, June 21, and Wednesday, July 2, when the district will be working on a 12-mile-long section of its 96-inch-diameter Sepulveda feeder line.
MWD says the work can be expected to affect the water pressure supplied to water distributors, including Waterworks District No. 29, which services the Malibu area.
Although the district indicates that it does not expect customers to experience problems unless the weather gets hot during the shutdown period, comparable repairs have created problems in the past.
Preventive maintenance is a top priority now that California is in the midst of its driest spring on record. Last week, the governor declared a drought—the first in nearly 20 years—after two years of below-average rainfall, low snow-melt runoff and court-ordered restrictions on water transfers.
The state depends on the winter snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas for most of its summer water supply. This March, April and May were the driest months on record. That does not bode well.
Conditions could be even worse next year if there is another dry winter. An eight-year drought in the Southwest means California can’t depend on Colorado River water to help supply Southern California. And a federal court order last year requires that more of that area’s water remain in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
MWD board members have been edging toward a water-supply alert by encouraging residents and businesses to start cutting back on usage and asking cities to crack down on those who don’t.
If not enough water is saved over the next year, it is anticipated that MWD will consider rationing. “This is an attempt to stretch out our reserves and make sure we don’t run them into the ground,” according to Jeff Kightlinger, MWD’s general manager.
Kightlinger announced last week that MWD will bump up its advertising campaign on the need to conserve water and ask cities to consider adopting ordinances restricting discretionary water use.
Malibu incorporated in 1991 and got up and running in 1992, but it did not experience the same brunt of the water shortage that Southern California felt in the early 1990s.
In addition to the quantity of local water supplies, questions are expected to be raised about the quality of alternate water sources if major adjustments are required.
For questions about the two-week feeder line repair period, contact the Los Angeles County Waterworks District at 310-456-6621.