By Ted AYALA
Amidst a historic statewide drought that has persisted with no foreseeable end in the near future, Glendale City Council approved on Tuesday moving Glendale Water & Power (GWP) into the second phase of its water conservation plan.
The implementation of phase 2 of the GWP Water Conservation Ordinance was required after the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) passed mandatory restrictions on July 15.
“With this regulation, all Californians will be expected to stop washing down driveways and sidewalks; watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff; using a hose to wash a motor vehicle, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle, and using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated,” read a press release issued by the SWRCB earlier this month.
The bulk of the restrictions are aimed at curtailing outdoor watering. Irrigation of lawns, for example, would be permitted on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only. Any irrigation that occurs on those days must be limited to no longer than 10 minutes. Watering will also not be permitted between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., although some exceptions will be allowed for the watering of parks.
Phase 2 of the Water Conservation Ordinance will also keep in place existing restrictions, such as those on hosing down of cars and driveways.
“The regulation is intended to curtail outdoor water use since most Californians use more than 50% of water for outdoor use,” a GWP press release stated. “The SWRCB mandated utilities to implement minimum conservation requirements to stop water usage that causes excess runoff.”
Councilmember Paula Devine asked GWP General Manager Steve Zurn whether a moratorium on the construction of new swimming pools ought to be considered, a suggestion city staff could be realized pending further study.
“The only moratorium I would vote for is a moratorium on construction in the downtown area,” countered Councilmember Ara J. Najarian. “Water usage [there] would far exceed that of a swimming pool.”
Najarian’s remark prompted a defense of development by Councilmember Laura Friedman, who opined that the topic was “complicated” and that it merited its own discussion separate from the one at hand.
“Forget about whether we need more apartments in Glendale,” she said. “A single-family that sits on a quarter of an acre is going to use a whole lot more water than a bunch of apartments in downtown. The rest of us don’t have to save more water because of an apartment building. It doesn’t work that way. The [Metropolitan Water District] allocates to us an allowance that allows growth.”
Friedman also pointed to development across the region as being far more problematic than the redevelopment in downtown Glendale, saying that those projects – such as an approval for the construction of 60,000 homes in the Newhall Pass – pose a far greater problem to a state that is already reeling from increasingly scarce water resources.
“It’s difficult and there’s a lot of challenges,” she continued. “You’re going to see resource issues across the planet. It’s a much bigger issue than [Glendale] putting in an apartment building.”
Zurn promised to conduct extensive public outreach in order to ensure that the message “gets out” to the public.
“Obviously through these difficult times we’ll make this push [for outreach] even harder,” he said. “We’ll continue to ramp that up.”