Mayor Villaraigosa’s office released a plan Wednesday calling on Los Angeles residents to reduce water usage by 10 percent, stating that this summer’s predicted record high temperatures as well as near record low rainfall and Sierra snow pack could spell the beginning of a perfect storm for drought conditions for Southern California.
According to both the mayor’s office and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spokesperson Kim Hughes, Los Angeles has done a good job of conserving water, citing the fact that the amount of water used today is equal to the amount used 25 years ago, even with over a million additional residents since 1982.
In their continuing efforts to rein in water use, the City of Los Angeles, in conjunction with the LADWP, offers suggestions to businesses along with financial incentives to begin to implement water-saving measures. These include innovative, smart irrigation systems for businesses with extensive landscaping that utilize satellites to measure the amount of moisture in the ambient air as well as ground sensors that will work together to calculate the optimum time for watering. Hughes said the Bel Air Country Club recently purchased a similar system.
Other measures include the use of recycled water to be used in water-intensive operations, such as X-ray development and certain kinds of manufacturing, like Medtronic of the San Fernando Valley, a company that manufactures high-tech medical devices like insulin pumps.
With 40 percent of Los Angeles’ water use devoted to irrigation of landscaping, the LADWP has begun offering incentives of $1,000 per acre of controlled water with the use of weather-based smart irrigation controllers that would keep sprinklers turned off during wet weather. Beginning in July, L.A.’s Department of Parks and Recreation will install smart controllers in 15 city parks.
According to Tom Brown, executive director of physical plant management at CSUN, the university is poised to make giant leaps in water conservation. He conceded that the university has done a better job of conserving energy than water, but added that they’ve been studying water conservation strategies that include implementing drought-resistant landscaping and waterless urinals.
But LADWP’s Hughes has nothing but high marks for Brown, going so far as to characterize him as a visionary, citing one of his projects, the university’s own fuel cell that generates a substantial portion of the power used by the campus, and whose waste water will eventually irrigate the university’s rain forest project in the botany department.
Brendon Tinoco, chef de cuisine of the University Sierra Center for the last six years, said water conservation is important to the food preparation.
“We use Ecolab Detergent,” he said, explaining that is a brand of biodegradable dish washing detergent.
Tinoco added that the water used for washing dishes at the Sierra Center was recycled, explaining that after each cycle, the same water is super-heated, destroying any bacteria, and used again.
He also pointed out that his kitchens and bathrooms use sinks with sensors and timers in an effort to save water, as does most of the rest of the campus.
Hughes said using biodegradable detergents is an important component of any attempts to use recycled water for irrigation, as biodegradable detergents are more inert than non-biodegradable ones and won’t contain harmful runoff.
Tinoco characterized his feelings about water conservation: “We need it,” he said. “We’re in trouble.”