Friday, October 8, 2010

Long Beach Lawn to Garden Program Gains Steam

The First 100 Homes participating in the Water Department's Beautiful Long Beach Lawn to Garden Program have just been completed.

To celebrate this achievement, the Long Beach Water Department, along with the City of Long Beach held a Press Conference Wednesday, October 6th, at 9:30 AM in front of one of the recently finished homes.  The event went well and even the rain managed to stay away during the majority of the time. 

The following are some of the recent stories highlighting the success of the program to date. 

LA Times -

Press Telegram -

LB Post -

Gazettes -
Here's to the next 100 homes!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

State Water Project Finishes Year with 45% Allocation

The final allocation for the state water project has been now been set and it came in at a whopping 45 percent.  This, despite a year that has seen well above normal rainfall and snow pack levels. 

Ongoing pumping restrictions in the Delta are known to have had an effect on this seemingly low final allocation, but what other factors may have played a role in this lower than expected figure?

You can see the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) write up about the final allocation here, which includes the water deliveries for State Water Contractors (Including MWD, who supplies Long Beach with roughly 40 percent of its water supply):

Here also is DWR's press release on the final allocation:

If California is dry again next year, as it was during the three years prior to 2009-2010, it will be very interesting to see how far State Water Project deliveries continue to decrease.

Friday, May 14, 2010

$11 Billion Water Bond - Boondoggle or Necessity?

Things are starting to heat up with the $11 billion water bond proposal that will go before California voters in November. 

A coalition of bond supporters have started to make their voices heard, while at the same time, those opposing the bond are ramping up their efforts to undermine the value of the bond.

To learn more about the water bond you can browse the websites of both the support and the opposition groups below:

These are both biased websites, so keep that in mind as you read through them.

After you've read them, let us know what you think...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Corix Utilities to Provide Monthly Meter Reading Services for City of Long Beach

Pilot phase will run through July 31st with full-scale meter reading services expected to begin on August 2nd

LONG BEACH, CA – The City of Long Beach has begun the first steps in transitioning to a new monthly meter reading service. Corix Utilities will be phased in as the new contract meter reading provider for water and gas customers over the next few months.

As part of this new service, the City will also be switching over to monthly meter reading starting in August, which should provide multiple benefits to City of Long Beach water and gas customers.  Currently, utility meters are read on a bi-monthly basis and are more vulnerable to estimation and billing adjustment issues that come with the territory of taking a "true" reading once every other month.  The new monthly meter reading service should remedy most, if not all of these kinds

More information about the transition to monthly meter reading, as well as the new meter reading contractor, Corix Utilities, can be found in the informational flyer here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Long Beach Closes in on Per Capita Water Use of 100 Gallons Per Day

Water demand in April was 17.2% below average; sets a new citywide record for low water consumption during April

LONG BEACH, CA – The Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners has announced today that the City of Long Beach has set another 10-year record low for water consumption during the month of April. Citywide water demand during the month of April was 17.2 percent below the city's historical 10-year average. For the past 12-month period, water demand in Long Beach is tracking at nearly 17 percent below the historical average.

“After two and a half years of sustaining high levels of conservation, our customers continue to impress us with their efforts to permanently reduce their water use,” said Paul Blanco, President of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. “They have come to realize, as should all of southern California that it is no longer prudent to safely rely on our water supplies from the Colorado River and Northern California.”

Last week the California Department of Finance released its updated population figures for the City of Long Beach, which saw its population increase by roughly 4,000 people. With this bigger population base, yet decreased water demand, the Long Beach Water Department estimates the city’s per capita water use has dropped to approximately 102 gallons per day.

“Based on these new population and water consumption figures, Long Beach is now two gallons away from reaching per capita water use of 100 gallons per day,” said Kevin Wattier, General Manager for the Long Beach Water Department. “If our customers can reduce their water consumption by another two percent, we will be there, and that would be an incredible feat considering how much additional water our city was using less than five years ago.”

The Long Beach Water Department’s 100th anniversary is next year. Mr. Wattier said it would be great to see the City’s per capita water use come down to 100 gallons by the end of next year.

“We’re unofficially calling it our 100 by 100 initiative,” Wattier remarked.

This morning, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) updated the State Water Project allocation projection, increasing it to 40 percent. A final allocation is expected at the end of May. If the allocation is increased to 50 percent at the end of the month, southern California would still receive 20 percent less water than average in a year that has been well above average in terms of statewide precipitation.

"Although the snow pack has reached its highest May 1 levels since 2006, and allows us to raise our projected deliveries to communities, farms and businesses, we must not be lulled into a false sense of complacency” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “The harsh reality is that we continue to have a severe problem with water in California. A 40 percent allocation will still leave many communities with water shortages this year. Recovering from three consecutive years of drought, and restrictions on Delta pumping, means we must continue to conserve water and work as hard as ever toward a comprehensive solution to our water crisis.”

The other imported water source that Long Beach relies upon, the Colorado River, has been experiencing worsening problems of its own over the past decade, with drought in 10 of the last 11 years.

“Many people are paying very close attention to the health and sustainability of the Colorado River watershed”, said Mr. Wattier. “The water level in Lake Mead has dropped over 100 feet in the past decade, and at the end of April, it was at the lowest level it has been for this time of the year since 1965.”

Coincidentally, current citywide potable water consumption in Long Beach is also at the same level it was in 1965.

Long Beach Water is an urban, Southern California retail water supply agency, and the standard in water conservation and environmental stewardship.

Long Beach Water Demand Figures

Month of April:

- April FY 10 is 17.2% below Historical 10-year average

- April FY 10 is 18.0% below Historical 5-year average

- April FY 10 is 1.7% below April FY 09

April Fiscal Year-to-Date:

- April FY 10 YTD is 16.8% below Historical 10-year average

- April FY 10 YTD is 16.9% below Historical 5-year average

- April FY 10 YTD is 0.1% below April FY 09 YTD

Running 12-month Total:

Historical 12-month Average: 68,128 gallons

Recent 12 months: 56,699 gallons

Recent 12-month Conservation: 16.8%

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

LB Water Department Sees Strong Demand for Landscape Rebate Program

Single-family home rebates completely allocated within 45 minutes of opening application system

LONG BEACH, CA – On April 7th, at 8 AM, the Long Beach Water Department began accepting applications from Long Beach residents and businesses for rebates of up to $2,500 to help fund the replacement of grass lawns with California Friendly landscapes.

By 9 AM, the rebates had all been spoken for.

“We are very pleased with the great response we have received from our customers for this program,” said Matthew Lyons, Director of Planning and Conservation for the Long Beach Water Department. “People are really starting to recognize that California Friendly landscapes not only conserve water, but offer a host of other benefits. They require less maintenance, use less fertilizer and pesticides, decrease the impact on both upstream and downstream environments and create valuable animal habitats and personal outdoor living spaces.”

For those customers who were quick enough to get in their applications before funding ran out, they will have the opportunity to receive rebates to replace up to 1,000 square feet of grass lawn in their front yards. Successful applicants must comply with a set list of requirements, which includes taking an online course and getting rid of any existing inefficient irrigation systems, among others.

The Water Department stopped accepting applications for the program on Monday of this week. Due to the overwhelming response, many applicants were sent letters notifying them that they had been placed on a ranked wait list, which indicated their number in line. The letter explained that applicants will be pulled from the wait list if funding becomes available for their projects.

Kevin Wattier, General Manager of the Long Beach Water Department, had some additional good news for waitlisted applicants who may be worried about whether or not they will eventually receive funds to re-landscape their lawns.

“Now that we know there is considerable demand for this program, we are expecting to fund a second round of rebates in the fall,” said Mr. Wattier. “I encourage those of you on the wait list to continue to wait until the fall, if possible, because there is a good chance that many of your projects will eventually be funded.”

Although the program limits the square footage for each applicant’s landscape eligible for the rebate to 1,000 square feet, the average area applied for by applicants was slightly more than 800 sq. ft., meaning that well over 100 customers will receive rebates in this first round of funding.

The Water Department estimates that by switching from grass lawns to California Friendly gardens, these properties have the potential to save a combined 40 million gallons of water over the next ten years.

“Every gallon of water we save through this program is another gallon of expensive imported water that we no longer have to purchase,” said Paul Blanco, President of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. “As more of our customers switch over to drought-tolerant landscapes, we anticipate seeing a continued, steady decrease in water consumption in Long Beach.”

Current applicants and other interested customers can continue to read about the rebate program and California Friendly landscaping in general, by visiting

The Long Beach Water Department is an urban, southern California, retail water supply agency and the standard in water conservation and environmental stewardship.


Long Beach Water Department Unveils Citywide Landscape Rebate Program

More than 100 successful applicants will receive up to $2,500 to replace grass lawns with California Friendly Landscaping

LONG BEACH, CA – On April 7th, the Long Beach Water Department will begin accepting applications from Long Beach residents and businesses for rebates worth as much as $2,500 for the purpose of replacing water-intensive grass lawns with drought-tolerant landscapes. Customers can find specific information about the program, including eligibility requirements and how to apply by visiting

The Beautiful Long Beach Lawn to Garden Incentive Program will allow pre-approved water customers to apply for the $2.50 per square foot rebates, with a set maximum of 1,000 square feet allowed per customer, enough to replace a 20 foot by 50 foot area of lawn. There is a limited amount of funding for the program, which means applications for the rebates will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. The rebate will help fund a portion of each customer’s project, providing much of the funding for a project if the work is done by the customers themselves.

“The people of Long Beach have been very responsive to our calls to conserve water and make long-lasting changes to their water use habits,” said Kevin Wattier, General Manager of the Long Beach Water Department. “We created this program knowing that our customers are eager to take advantage of opportunities like this. We fully expect that the upfront investment we are making with this program will result in a return many times over as more and more people realize the numerous benefits of utilizing a drought-tolerant landscape.”

The new rebate incentive program was created to build momentum on last year’s landscape makeover giveaways that provided nine Long Beach homeowners, one in each council district, with a brand new, re-designed drought-tolerant front yard. Due to the success of that program, the Water Department has seen a considerable increase in the installation of drought-tolerant landscapes throughout Long Beach.

“Many people have come to view the permanent water reductions affecting southern California with apprehension and uncertainty,” said Matthew Lyons, Director of Planning and Conservation for the Long Beach Water Department. “But these reductions have also created an awareness of the value of replacing grass lawns with California friendly landscapes. These landscapes require less yard maintenance, less fertilizers and pesticides, improve habitats in the upstream environments and in our Long Beach coastal waters, attract wonderful creatures such as hummingbirds and butterflies and, in some cases, provide more person-friendly spaces such as expanded patios and entertaining areas,” added Mr. Lyons.

The release of the program comes at an opportune time, as a number of events will be taking place in and around Long Beach over the next few weeks that will offer customers the chance to learn more about drought-tolerant landscaping and provide opportunities to purchase a wide variety of California Friendly plants.

From March 31 through April 3, the Long Beach City College will be holding its annual plant sale at its Pacific Coast Campus. Many varieties of drought-tolerant plants will be available for purchase.

The following weekend (April 10th and 11th) is the seventh annual Theodore Payne native plant garden tour. The Long Beach Water Department is currently offering a 2-for-1 deal on tickets for this event, with a limit of five free tickets per Long Beach resident. Included in this year’s tour is both a Long Beach apartment complex and single family home. The tour is self-guided and includes 50 examples of single and multi-family residences that have converted over to drought-tolerant landscapes.

Here is a summary of the upcoming drought-tolerant garden related events and programs:

March 31 – April 3: LBCC Annual Plant Sale – Pacific Coast Campus

April 7: Applications accepted for LBWD Lawn to Garden Incentive Program

April 10 – 11: Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour (2 for 1 deal through LBWD)

April 17: Free LBWD Landscape class

April 24: Earth Day at the Aquarium of the Pacific

“With the Lawn to Garden Incentive program, our goal is to continue to raise awareness in our neighborhoods about a progressive and environmentally responsible style of landscaping,” said Paul Blanco, President of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. “The reliability of our imported water sources continues to erode and we no longer have the option to sit back and hope that Mother Nature will take care of us. We must continue to reduce our outdoor water use, and we believe that providing our customers with these rebates will spur additional interest in Beautiful Long Beach Landscapes, ultimately leading to long-term water consumption reductions in our City.”

The Long Beach Water Department is an urban, southern California, retail water supply agency and the standard in water conservation and environmental stewardship.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Drought still very much alive despite recent storms

It's generally agreed upon that the recent series of storms that came through our area, although nice, have made little more than a minor dent in the ongoing drought of California.

Rainfall and snowpack levels are running near average for this time of year, however critical reservoirs continue to be well below average, and many statewide groundwater basins have been pumped to dangerously low levels.  Add in environmental restrictions that severely limit the amount of water that can be pumped from Northern California to Central and Southern California and our water supply picture is looking anything but rosy.

Most of the future remains unclear.  Weather cycles will ebb and flow.  We may or may not receive enough rainfall and snow pack over the next few years to recharge our vital basins and reservoirs.  What is certain is that in Southern California, there have been permanent reductions to our imported water supply from both the Bay Delta and Colorado River sources due to a combination of cyclical climate changes and increasingly restrictive environmental regulations.  Right now there is little we can do to get around these obstacles. 

Conservation must continue to be at the heart of any strategy going forward.  Unfortunately, we just don't have a choice.