Single-family Water Use Down 7% So Far This Year — Governmental use down 11.4%

LOS ANGELES (December 1, 2008) — Despite record temperatures and no rainfall during the month of October, Los Angeles residents continued cutting back on their water use last month according to the most recent data available from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, making October the 15th consecutive month of reduced water use for single family residential customers.  So far this year, residents living in single-family homes have cut their water use by 7% over the prior year.  In addition, October 2008 water use in single-family homes was the lowest recorded since 2002 – a significant achievement considering that there was no rainfall for the month and L.A. had the highest recorded average high temperature of 85.4 degrees for an October since 1906 and our population has grown of 6% since 2002.

Other customer categories also saw significant declines in water use.  Government customers have cut water use by 11.4% so far this year. The commercial sector also saw a decline of 5.4% while residents of multi-family apartments cut their use by 4.3%.  Overall use in the city is down 5.1% for the year.  Only industrial customers have used more water than the prior year with their use up almost 22%.

“Angelenos are getting the picture and we are clearly heading in the right direction, but we must remain vigilant and do even more to reduce our water use.  We remain in a drought and as the rainy season approaches, we cannot be lulled into a false sense of security.  Our water supplies have been cut and each of us must do our part to cut our own use even further,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  “I’ have faith that we will reach our goal of 10% with just a little more effort by doing simple things like turning off sprinklers when it rains, cutting outdoor watering to just one or two days during the winter and fixing all leaks around the house and yard.

The positive trend in water conservation reverses an alarming increase in water use seen in the months prior to the Mayor’s call for conservation on June 16, 2007.  At that time, water use spiked in April and May, by 19.3% and 20.7% respectively, for the months prior to the call to conserve.

The Mayor cited numerous reasons for the drop, including increased awareness of the municipal Water Conservation Ordinance that was strengthened in August allowing members of the LADWP Water Conservation Team to cite persons or businesses who violate the city’s Prohibited Water Use Ordinance. Since September when the team began enforcement, 1,388 complaints have been investigated, resulting in 558 citations being issued for such prohibitions as watering between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., watering down hard surfaces like driveways and sidewalks, allowing excess water to flow into the street and other violations.

The City has also placed a much greater emphasis on conserving water at city-owned facilities. LADWP personnel have met with the City’s major departments to educate them about ways to save water and is tracking the water use of all City departments against and established baseline.  The LADWP has also audited over 300 city facilities, identifying ways to save additional water in the future through the installation of low-flow and waterless urinals, toilets and faucet aerators.

Both residents and visitors of Los Angeles are also learning of the city’s water challenges through different means. Many restaurant patrons now see LADWP table tent cards reminding them that they must first ask for a glass of water before being served one. Automatic serving of water is prohibited under the Water Ordinance. The department supplied nearly 1,000 hotels and motels with towel rack hangers asking patrons to reuse linens. Soon, the LADWP water conservation message will also be seen in signage on the department vehicles that service every part of the city.

“Water conservation is here to stay, whether the rains come or not,” said David Nahai, CEO and general manager of the LADWP. “There are no more rivers to tap or aqueducts to build from hundreds of miles away. The way we’re going to meet our needs in the future is through conservation and recycling. We will never let up in our efforts to communicate this important fact to our customers.”

In May, the Mayor and Nahai announced a far-reaching 20-year water strategy for Los Angeles to meet 100% of new water demand that included a six-fold increase in water recycling, including expansion of the “purple pipe” system (distributing water for irrigation and industrial uses) and development of new treatment facilities to replenish groundwater with treated and purified wastewater.

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