Glendale officials, responding to scheduled cutbacks by the city's main water supplier, are preparing to enact mandatory conservation measures that will require residents and businesses to reduce their water use by 15%.
City and regional officials, in a report Tuesday to the City Council, said they expect mandatory rationing at that level to take effect April 1 and result in dried-up lawns and city parks. But they warned that required reductions could reach 30% by summer if the drought continues.
"I have nothing but doom and gloom to report to you regarding our water supply," said James Rez, a former Glendale city manager who is the local representative for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies 90% of Glendale's water.
The council is expected to approve a formal recommendation next week for a 15% reduction from 1989 usage levels.
"The time of reckoning is here and it's time to deal with that," said Mayor Larry Zarian, responding to Tuesday's report.
The MWD, which obtains water from Northern California and the Colorado River, is requiring its customers to reduce their shares by 31% beginning March 1, or face stiff financial penalties. The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved a 10% mandatory reduction plan for its customers beginning March 1 which increases to 15% on May 1.
In response to earlier, less severe cutbacks by the MWD, Glendale already has reduced its share by roughly 15% by boosting production from local wells and stepping up a voluntary reduction campaign, said Donald Froelich, the city's water services administrator.
The city's reclamation system also is being expanded, with more pipelines being added to transport reclaimed sewage water to parks and large businesses for irrigation, Froelich said.
But those measures now must be supplemented by mandatory rationing to meet the 31% cutback by the MWD, he said.
Froelich and other officials predicted that most residents will meet the 15% reduction requirement by cutting down on lawn watering and other outdoor irrigation. The city will take the same approach by bringing to a halt the watering of its parks, they said.
Only the old sycamore and live oak trees in the parks will receive special deep-root watering, and the city will require all outdoor fountains to be turned off, officials said.
Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Gray said his staff will be encouraging residents to plant drought-resistant shrubbery and ground cover, and trim trees and bushes as they turn brown or dry up.
Glendale's 32,000 customers use roughly 27 million gallons of water each day. Under the city's proposed plan, customers who do not reduce their water use by 15% will pay double the usual rate for the extra water, Froelich said.
Those who continue to exceed their limit will pay four times the rate, or the city will install flow-restriction devices on their meters or disconnect their water service, he said.
Michael Hopkins, public services director, said a specific implementation plan will be delivered to the council in two weeks. For now, it is unclear exactly how mandatory rationing will be enforced and monitored, particularly at apartment and office buildings, he said.
Under the first phase of a five-phase conservation plan enacted last May by the City Council, daytime lawn watering and the hosing of sidewalks and driveways was prohibited. The city's customers voluntarily reduced their consumption by 7%, Froelich said.
A 15% mandatory reduction level represents the third phase of the council's plan. But that level could rise beyond the fifth-phase recommendation of 25% by summer, when the MWD's cutback is expected to increase to at least 43%, officials told the council Tuesday.
That could require single-family households and landlords of multifamily dwellings to lessen their use of water indoors by installing low-flow shower heads and other reduction devices, according to the city's report.
"What we're conserving now is next year's water, because we don't know how long this drought is going to continue," Rez said.