Extremes in Weather Patterns Heighten Need to Continue Using Water Wisely
LOS ANGELES (April 12, 2023) — After completing the final snow surveys for the 2022-2023 winter season, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) announced a record snowpack of 296% of normal for the Eastern Sierra on April 1. The snowpack created by this year’s epic winter season surpassed the 1969 historic record estimated at 270% of normal.
“Los Angeles will continue to do all we can to ensure that we are turning record snow and rain into record water capture,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said. “We will continue to expand and secure a local sustainable water supply, and continue to use water wisely.”
“It has been a phenomenally wet year, bringing a dramatic 180-degree turn-around for our city’s water supply,” said Martin Adams, LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer. “But while we can breathe a little easier the extreme shift in weather patterns demonstrates the unpredictability of our snow and water levels each year. It’s crucial we continue to expand and secure a local sustainable water supply, and continue to use water wisely.”
The record snowpack level is currently estimated to provide up to 130 billion gallons of water for Los Angeles, potentially enough to meet up to 80% of the city’s water demand for a year or more, or enough to supply water to more than 1 million households. To put things into perspective, in an average year, the Los Angeles Aqueduct typically provides about half of the city’s total water supply. The remaining supplies come from local groundwater, recycled water, stormwater capture, and from California’s State Water Project (SWP) and Colorado River through purchases from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
Along with the deep snow, the storms have helped replenish the city’s groundwater basins. From October 1, 2022 through April 4, 2023, LADWP estimates the cumulative amount of stormwater captured was 108,570 acre-feet, or 35.4 billion gallons—enough to serve more than 434,000 households for one year or fill 53,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Each year, LADWP conducts snow surveys from February to April at five snow courses in the Eastern Sierra, where snowmelt feeds into the Los Angeles Aqueduct which delivers water to Los Angeles. LADWP’s April snow survey results currently mirror the statewide snowpack levels, which have also hit new records and has led to the state’s recent increase of water allocations to 75 percent, up from the 35 percent announced back in February, for the Bay Delta’s State Water Project.
While the improved water supply outlook is a welcomed change from previous drought conditions, impacts from a changing climate will continue to make water resources management a challenge. LADWP is asking Angelenos to keep up their water-saving efforts, such as converting their lawns to California Friendly and drought-tolerant landscaping, and using water efficient devices and appliances in their homes and businesses.
Thanks to a culture of conservation, LADWP customers used about 30% less water per person in 2022 than in the prior 15 years. To encourage saving even more water, LADWP boosted rebates in 2022 for water-efficient devices, appliances and other measures for residential and commercial customers.
To help customers reduce their outdoor water use, LADWP offers generous rebates for replacing water-thirsty lawns with sustainable and drought tolerant landscaping. All customers can receive $5.00 per square foot of turf for up to 5,000 square feet for residential and 50,000 square feet for commercial or multi-family customers. Single-family residential customers can also take advantage of free classes and design services to create beautiful waterwise landscapes.