Residents and businesses in some Southern California towns may be forced to let their lawns turn brown in September as emergency pipeline repairs cut off vital Colorado River water supplies for two weeks.
With record drought limiting other options, Burbank sent out a notice Tuesday that no sprinklers or other automated irrigation will be allowed in homes or businesses Sept. 6-20. The city is encouraging residents to put buckets in their showers and mulch in their flower beds to help keep plants alive during the ban.
And water officials say Burbank won’t be the only community to see tight water supplies next month. Other communities in the greater Los Angeles area and other pockets of Southern California could face similarly tight restrictions during the next two-week window, said Rebecca Kimitch, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan. Water District of Southern California, also known as the Met, which controls water imports. for the region.
Kimitch said his agency is still working with water retailers to see what alternatives might be available to meet water needs during the shutdown.
Large parts of Orange and San Bernardino counties, for example, have vast groundwater reserves that make them less dependent on imported water. And a spokesperson for the Western Municipal Water District in Riverside County said Tuesday night they don’t expect to be affected by the shutdown.
The result will likely be a hodgepodge of restrictions that vary from city to city — and a clear illustration of how precarious the water situation is in Southern California during a drought.
Most Southern California residents get some or all of their imported water from a combination of two sources: the State Water Project, which brings water from Northern California, and the Colorado River. Water levels in these two springs are at record highs due to the ongoing drought. So Met announced strict cuts to state water project supplies earlier this year.
Dozens of communities in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties that rely heavily on supplies from the State Water Project have already been forced to implement one-day-a-week watering restrictions. A representative from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said the Met assured them they would not need to impose further cuts while the pipeline was being repaired.
Glendale, which currently limits watering to two days a week due to drought, gets 60% of its water imported through Met. The shutdown of the Colorado River pipeline for two weeks in late summer, when State Water Project supplies are already so limited, is an “unprecedented” event, according to Michael De Ghetto, who helps oversee the water for the city.
To ease the demand, Ghetto said Wednesday it was preparing to send out a notice “urgently requesting” that residents do no outdoor watering from Sept. 6 to Sept. 20. He said they were not imposing a ban and would not fine residents who watered during this window, but he said they were counting on residents to help reduce as much as possible. .
Burbank has opted to use only water from the Colorado River so far this year, to ease pressure on the state water project. But this will not be possible during the September closure. So the city said in a statement that the two-week ban on automated outdoor watering is necessary to limit the amount of water the city will have to use from the State Water Project during that time.
“There are many communities that can only get water from the state water project,” Jeannine Edwards, deputy general manager of Burbank Water and Power, said in a prepared statement.
“During this time, we are exclusively dependent on this source and we must all do our part to help maintain the water supply. We are lucky that this is only a two week problem and we will be able to resume watering after the (pipe) is repaired. For other communities, this is not the case.
The pipeline that brings water from the Colorado River to the Met’s treatment plant in La Verne has been leaking for some time, Kimitch said. She said they declined the debits and tried to limit the leak as much as possible. But the agency determined that the repairs should take place in September.
Burbank recommends residents set reminders to turn off their irrigation systems on Sept. 6. The city’s water agency is also urging residents to consider rebate programs to remove sod and make other long-term changes to their water use.
Kimitch said the Met expects to hear more about the exact restrictions residents of different communities will face over the next week.