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%

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