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Officials look for drop in water use

Conservation: State legislation from 2009 seeks cut of 20 percent in consumption by 2020

Posted: May 23, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 23, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

The buzz phrase among local water officials these days is “20 by 2020.”

The meaning behind the phrase: Retail water suppliers in California are required to cut customers’ water consumption by 20 percent within the next 9 years.

“Gallons per customer” is where they will start.

“That’s going to be the new slang,” said Steve Cole, general manager of the Newhall County Water Division.
Cole was among those who attended a meeting of the Castaic Lake Water Agency last week to hammer out changes to the Santa Clarita Valley Urban Water Management Plan.

A water-management plan is required by the state in every urban area. Pounded out by local water purveyors, the plans outline where water will come from in each area and how supply and demand will be handled during times of drought.

Every five years, architects of the plan revisit it to make any necessary changes.

State demands
A state Senate bill passed in 2009 demands that all urban water suppliers reduce their water demand by 20 percent by the year 2020. Agricultural water suppliers also have new restrictions placed on them.

A workshop on the new requirements was held in March by the state Department of Water Resources, which is overseeing the effort. Local water purveyors met this month on the issue.

“We had to incorporate those Senate bill rulings into the plan,” Cole said.

To meet the “20 by 2020” goal, each water retailer — there are four in the Santa Clarita Valley — is expected to come up with a 10-year average to reflect its demand for water and, specifically, how many gallons of water each water customer uses in a single day.

That average will serve as a “base line” for the 20 percent target.

For the Newhall district, the per-customer figure fluctuates between 241 gallons per customer per day to about 244.

Demand reduction
One of the more popular water efficiency programs experienced at the Newhall district was its toilet rebate, which allowed homeowners an opportunity to replace inefficient water-flow toilets with more efficient, ultra-low-flush toilets.

“That’s just one of the programs sponsored to reduce water demand,” Cole said.

In March 2008, board members of the Castaic Lake Water Agency approved a recommendation from their Water Resources Committee to issue more rebate vouchers for the popular ultra-low-flush toilet voucher program.
Increased use of recycled water is another way to reduce demand.

By 2020, water officials hope an estimated 22,744 acre-feet of water will be recycled in and around Santa Clarita — watering parks, school yards, wilderness tracts along paseos and, of course, more golf courses.

The Senate bill’s required changes to the local water plan have given water officials a six-month extension to finalizing their plan.

The urban water management plan was to have been finalized by December 2010.

“We now have to have it adopted before July 1,” said Dirk Marks, water resources manager for the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

A third and final public hearing to discuss the plan and its changes is scheduled for June 22.

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