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Water rationing for Pasadena's shortage?

December 17, 2007 12:00:00 AM PST
With water supplies at an all-time low, the Pasadena City Council will decide on water conservation measures Monday night. Will rationing come in the near future?If you dine in Pasadena any time in the near future, you may have to request a glass of water with your meal. It will not come automatically. That's because Pasadena Water and Power officials are seeking voluntary water restrictions. They want residents to cut back on their water consumption.

Pasadena water officials worry when they see Devil's Gate Dam in the Arroyo Seco. The reservoir was spilling over in 2005. Now the stream is at a trickle.

"We have been coming out of the driest year in recorded history, and the lowest rainfall," said Pasadena Water and Power Engineering Manager Brad Boman.

That means less water entering the underground supply through percolation ponds -- levels 60 feet below historical norms.

Sixty percent of Pasadena's water comes from the Metropolitan Water District, which is supplied by the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. A federal court ruling is pending that could impose new limits. Other sources are drying up too.

"Both on the Colorado River, the Northern California water, and our groundwater -- it's all three sources of Pasadena's water have been affected, and we're seeing a drought in all three of those," said Boman.

Water officials are asking residents to voluntarily cut back. Instead of five minutes in the shower, take three minutes. Repair leaks in plumbing fixtures. Don't water the yard more than once in three days.

Yet a similar request in the city of Los Angeles has not worked. Following an appeal last summer, water use went up almost 1 percent.

Adding to its troubles, the Silver Lake and Elysian reservoirs developed a chemical imbalance, rendering the water undrinkable until they can be cleaned and refilled. That's a loss of 1 percent of L.A.'s annual water supply in a time of short supply.

Long Beach is under mandatory rationing. Hosing sidewalks, patios and parking lots has been banned.

The result is a record drop in water use, a 10-year low in September.

Pasadena Water officials say they will monitor water use for the next four to six months. If they do not see a drop in usage of 10 to 20 percent with voluntary cutbacks, they are prepared to seek mandatory measures.

Pasadena is currently training employees how to spot offenders and how to issue citations.

Pasadena will take up the matter Monday night on voluntary measures.


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