Drought causing problems for Long Beach traffic circle, parks

Friday, August 31, 2018

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Long Beach's iconic traffic circle is in rough shape.

The brown grass and dying trees are an illustration of the severe drought SoCal has been experiencing.

It's also a case study of what the city decides to water and what not to water.

This past rainy season has been anything but rainy.

Long Beach Airport recorded less than four inches of rain, more than seven inches below average.

Without rain, the city of Long Beach would have to spend an extra $2 million a year on watering parks and medians.

It already spends $2.3 million a year for water irrigation, of which 60 percent is reclaimed water.

City officials say their water bill has gone up 14 percent in the last five years.

The city approved an extra $900,000 this year for water to get some of the parks in shape.

Options the city is looking at include drought-resistant landscaping and different types of grass that grow with less water.

As for the traffic circle, making it green again is complicated.

State law requires only recycled water be used for medians.

Because of the location, the roundabout's sprinklers aren't hooked up to the reclaimed water system.

The traffic circle is 86 years old and was built for the 1932 Olympics.