Glendale officials are preparing to pump more water from the city's wells and urge customers to conserve even more because of an imminent cutback by the city's main water supplier.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the wholesale agency that provides about 90% of Glendale's water, has said it will impose mandatory conservation measures Feb. 1. Previously, the agency has only recommended voluntary curbs on consumption.
MWD officials said the mandatory cutback is needed because of the continuing shortage of rain and snowfall in Northern California and a court-mandated reduction in the state's share of Colorado River water. "Our water supply outlook for the coming year is quite dim," said MWD spokesman Bob Gomperz.
Glendale officials are already preparing to buy less water from the agency.
"We're assuming that the drought is going to continue and that the MWD is going to cut back on us," said Don Froelich, the city's water services administrator. "So we have a multi-pronged response. One of the things we want to do is increase our production of local ground water.
"We're also going to step up our conservation efforts. We have a bill-stuffer going out now, informing people of the precarious water situation."
In December, the MWD board voted to require a 5% cut in water to municipal customers such as Glendale, beginning Feb. 1. But on Tuesday the board voted to increase the mandatory cutback to 10%.
The supplier will impose a financial penalty if Glendale fails to meet this goal, based on a comparison with the amount of water that the city bought during the same month in 1990.
If an MWD customer "does not meet its targeted allocation, it is subjected to a surcharge--200% above the normal cost of water," MWD spokesman Gomperz said. "For those agencies that manage to go under the target, there is an incentive of a 50% rebate."
Glendale's average daily water usage is about 25 million gallons, although it can climb to as much as 50 million gallons daily during a summer heat wave.
Froelich said the MWD decision will not cause Glendale to impose immediate rationing on its 32,000 residential and business water customers.
But he added, "What it's going to do is cause us to take a much closer look at implementing the city's own mandatory water conservation ordinance. We're in the process of developing the administrative procedures to implement the ordinance. We've got a lot of homework to do."
Last February, the Glendale City Council approved a five-stage water conservation ordinance. The first stage, implemented in May, prohibited hosing down sidewalks, ordered restaurants to stop serving water unless it is requested, outlawed decorative fountains that do not recirculate water, required prompt repair of water leaks and banned lawn watering between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Under the remaining four stages, the city can require customers to cut their usage by 10% to 25% or face financial penalties.
Since May, Glendale has sent about 200 warning notices to water wasters, and an additional 100 are being prepared, said Valerie Apmadoc, a city conservation coordinator.
She said the city has relied on reports from concerned residents and city employees, but has not hired the "drought-buster" enforcement workers used by neighboring Los Angeles. Glendale officials have the power to install a flow restrictor when a water waster ignores repeated warnings, but Apmadoc said none has yet been used.
Public calls for conservation, coupled with a new sewage billing system based partly on water usage, led to a cut in the city's water consumption during 1990, Glendale officials said.
Water services administrator Froelich said Glendale recorded a 10% reduction in water use over the critical summer period. For the entire period of January through November, however, the usage decrease was about 8%. Both figures were adjusted to reflect the city's population growth over the previous year, Froelich said.
Because Glendale has been conservative in using its well water, the city has a buffer to guard against the MWD cutback that will begin Feb. 1, said Michael P. Hopkins, the city's director of public service.
"I think Glendale is in better shape than some of the other MWD customers because we already have the ordinance in place," he said. "We have prepared for this eventuality."
But he added that he hopes the city will get by without mandatory usage cuts.