Starting on Tuesday, residents of multiple Los Angeles County cities impacting 4 million people will have to completely cut all outdoor watering, including hand watering, for the next 15 days due to pipeline issues.
While most of California has seen water restrictions during the prolonged drought in the last few years, with most urban areas putting in a multitude of restrictions, a total outdoor watering stoppage had not yet happened. In fact, in many areas, water conservation has been on the upswing including the Bay Area and Los Angeles County.
But unlike the water restrictions placed this year, including the more harsh temporary restrictions put in place for the early September heat wave, the ban in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Long Beach, Pasadena, San Fernando, and Torrance on Tuesday is due to a major faulty pipe. According to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), an Upper Feeder pipeline to the Colorado River has a gigantic leak that was only temporarily fixed earlier this year. As the pipeline is at a reduced capacity currently, and a leak only allowing more water to be leaked out, MWD officials decided to pull the trigger on a large-scale repair.
Portions of LA County under call to cut outdoor watering from Sept. 6-20 as we shut down a critical water pipeline for emergency repairs. Map of affected areas below. For more info. and tips to sustain your landscaping, visit https://t.co/lYBz0CMHdj pic.twitter.com/Ie7Af7FYTG
— MWD of SoCal (@mwdh2o) August 15, 2022
“We can’t let this pipe continue to have this temporary patch,” said MWD Chief of Operations Brent Yamasaki. “We’re really concerned about the reliability, we’ve been able to make it through this time. But, we want to do this in a very organized and planned fashion.”
Other MWD added that once the pipeline was replaced, water would continue to flow as normal, as the temporary repair earlier this ear had reduced the amount of water coming in.
“The temporary fix we have in place has allowed us to operate the pipeline at a reduced capacity over the summer, but it is not intended to last long-term,” MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said. “We cannot delay this repair any further — doing so risks a failure and the potential for an unplanned, emergency situation.”
MWD board Chairwoman Gloria Gray added, “During this shutdown, we’ll be tapping into a very limited supply of water to deliver to these communities. So we must eliminate all outdoor water use and do everything else we can to conserve for 15 days. We want to thank residents and businesses in advance for their support and recognizing the water-supply challenges our region faces.”
While many have questioned if residents would actually comply with the outdoor watering ban, a bigger effect may come politically. While the drought and water restrictions have already squeezed many affected cities, the fifteen day ban could make or break many candidates running for election or reelection.
“A lot of candidates have had a lot riding on promising to keeping the water flowing or working hard to get through this crisis,” said Cherrie Anderson, a water policy advisor, to the Globe on Tuesday. “But 15 days of not being allowed to water outside? In areas where residents have lawns and places that need outdoor watering to stay in business? This is not going to help their case.”
“They should focus on this only being a temporary measure that will only help bring more water through, but for many who might get fined during this time this might be the straw that breaks the camels back in switching political support or changing which candidate gets their campaign donations. It’s not even their fault this is happening, but if they promised to allow residents to allow to water their plants under the restrictions, and now they can’t, it’s a huge thing. To many people, this is a huge thing. So all the candidates there who had water-based promises really need to nip this in the bud now, because residents will sure as hell start to feel this when officials pull up and tell them to stop watering.”
Other outdoor watering restrictions are likely statewide as the drought continues.
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