Turning Off the Tap Shows Results

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The two water suppliers serving Laguna Beach both hit their 24 percent water conservation targets for October.

In October, Laguna Beach County Water District (LBCWD) customers conserved 24.1 percent compared to October 2013, slightly above cutback targets, while South Coast Water District customers trickled in savings of 25.8 percent.

For the LBCWD, its level of consumption for the second consecutive month achieves the state mandated cutback, while SCWD continues its impressive run of exceeding the benchmark, although at a less commanding pace.

“A hot October,” was the reason SCWD customers only achieved a 25.8 percent decline in consumption in comparison to their usual plus 30 percent achievements since June, said Andy Brunhart, general manager of the district that serves South Laguna and neighboring cities. Consumer response even prompted the supplier to ease irrigating restrictions for October to allow watering two days a week, but for the rainy season has re-imposed restrictions to once a week, beginning Nov. 1, he said.

For June through October, LBCWD still remains slightly short of the mandated 24 percent cut in consumption, standing at 23.1 percent, while SCWD customers cumulatively consumed 30.4 percent less water in the same period.

This week, LBCWD called on its customers to accept its irrigation challenge, turning off their irrigation systems from Dec. 1 through Feb. 29. “We need to make every effort to reduce our daily water use in order to meet our mandatory reduction goal and ensure a reliable water supply,” Renae Hinchey, the district’s general manager, said in a statement.

The voluntary initiative comes on top of an already in place state mandate that prohibits district customers from using their irrigation within 48 hours of a measurable rainfall. “The more residents who participate in the challenge, the less likely it will be that we see sprinklers running during a rain event,” says Sergio Ramirez, the district’s conservation administrator.

Laguna’s neighbor to the north, Newport Beach, continues to miss its higher 28 percent cutback threshold, finishing October with a 14.2 percent savings, 14 percent below their target, and cumulatively achieving a 20.8 percent cut in water consumption since June. Areas with higher per capita consumption were ordered to conserve at higher rates by the state Water Resources Board.

“October was a very low month. It’s becoming more difficult in cooler months as people have already cut outdoor usage,” said George Murdoch, Newport’s municipal operations director. “We will continue to try all avenues to meet the state mandates.”

Similar to SCWD, Newport Beach mandated one day a week watering in November, according to Murdoch. Additionally, the city “sent another informational postcard and ramped up the number of notices and citations,” said Murdoch. “Every customer that does not meet the reduction goal will be contacted in the next month. Other actions include message boards on main roads, enhanced bill messaging and meeting with high users such as commercial and apartment home owners.”



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