Recent Storms Bring Much Needed Water to LA, but Water Conservation Still Encouraged
“One Year of Good Rain Does Not Erase Six Years of Drought.”
LOS ANGELES (February 8, 2017) — Recent storms have brought a much needed boost to the Sierra snowpack and stormwater to the Los Angeles area replenishing water resources, but we continue to encourage our customers to adopt water conservation as a way of life.
Initial measurements of the Eastern Sierra snowpack, which in a typical year provides nearly one-third of the water for Los Angeles via the Los Angeles Aqueduct, are at more than twice the average level for this time of year. This year’s first official snowpack measurement on February 1 came in at 217 percent of normal to date. This is a result of strong January rain and snow storms and more wet weather is expected later this week. The results are preliminary, with the final official reading, the one that determines water supplies for next year, occurring on April 1.
During the height of the drought, the Los Angeles Aqueduct delivered little to no water to the City, causing LADWP to make up the difference by purchasing more expensive imported water from the Metropolitan Water District, water that comes to Southern California through the State Water Project and the Colorado River Aqueduct. This year’s near record level snowpack is expected to refill regional reservoirs help replenish local groundwater, and dramatically increase supplies from the Owens Valley through the Los Angeles Aqueduct.
“We welcome this winter weather, but one good year of rain does not erase six years of drought,” Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) General Manager David H. Wright said. “The water supply picture looks much more encouraging, but we need to think longer term and continue to make water conservation a way of life. The coming weeks will help paint a more accurate picture of our supplies for next year, but with climate change and another record hot year globally, we cannot count on future years to be this generous. We need Angelenos to keep the conservation mindset that has grown stronger in recent years and keep using water efficiently.”
Estimates of stormwater capture rates locally in the LA basin are also high following the recent January storm systems, resulting in 6.46 billion gallons captured in the local LA-area, enough to supply 59,496 homes for one year. In the past, stormwater and groundwater has typically accounted for 12 percent of LA’s water supplies.
With over $2.4 billion in investments planned by LADWP over the next 10 years in water system infrastructure improvements including local water supply development projects such as expansion of spreading grounds, recycled water and water replenishment, the amount of water sourced locally will grow substantially by 2040. Through one project alone, LADWP and LA County Flood Control District will more than double the amount of stormwater captured at Tujunga Spreading Grounds, capturing enough water to serve over 30,000 homes for a year.
LADWP customers have reduced their per capita water use 20 percent in less than three years, using just 104 gallons per person per day. This met the Mayor’s Sustainable City pLAn goal outlined in 2014. LADWP remains focused on achieving the additional Sustainable City pLAn goals of 50 percent reduction in purchased imported water by 2025, and 50 percent of our sources coming from local water by 2035.
“We are blessed with a lot more rain locally and snow in the Sierras this year,” said Richard Harasick, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager – Water. But we cannot count on it next year or the year after. That’s why we need to expand our local stormwater capture capabilities through large infrastructure projects like the one underway at Tujunga spreading grounds, but also through smaller, local projects that capture water and allow it to percolate down to the natural storage we have in the San Fernando Valley Aquifer and other underground aquifers locally. We are saving for those ‘non-rainy days’ when we invest in local storage and foster programs like sustainable landscaping,” Harasick added.