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Use of Water and Electricity Sets Records

Times Staff Writers

Still reeling from the sweltering heat of the weekend, Southern Californians ran to their air conditioners, back-yard hoses and swimming pools in droves Tuesday and Wednesday, setting records for water and electricity use.

The Metropolitan Water District, which sells water wholesale to 27 agencies in Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, reported selling a record 2.62 billion gallons of water Wednesday.

That figure represents the amount of water that member agencies had to buy from the district to beef up local water supplies after the record-breaking heat wave last weekend, according to Jay Malinowski, a spokesman for the district. He estimated that water use in the district reached a record 5.22 billion gallons, including water that local agencies pumped out of their own wells and reservoirs before turning to the larger agency.

Southern California Edison reported an all-time record for electricity use in Southern California on Tuesday, when the downtown Los Angeles temperature reached 92. Demand peaked at 15,987 megawatts at 4 p.m., breaking the previous record of 15,606 megawatts set July 22.

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In Orange County, officials at the Municipal Water District of Orange County said there was no way to report how much water was used during the heat wave. But the Municipal Water District is one of the county’s largest wholesale purchasers of water from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District.

A spokesman said that the Municipal Water District is billed monthly and that there is no way to break the figure down for daily usage.

In Anaheim, Ray Merchant, a spokesman for the city Public Utilities Department, said an all-time record for electricity use was set Tuesday. Water usage, however, was not unusually high, he said.

Merchant said the combination of temperatures near the 100-degree mark and heavy use of air conditioners in homes, businesses and industry sent the electrical usage figure to 493 megawatts at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. That broke the previous high set Sept. 5, 1984, when the city used 483 megawatts of electricity from its sources at San Onofre, Hoover Dam and several power producers in Utah.

Merchant said the water usage over the holiday weekend was not unusually high. The city recorded using 83 million gallons on Tuesday, far below the record 102 million gallons used in one day in June, 1986.

Anaheim gats about 70% of its water from ground wells and 30% from the Metropolitan Water District.

Other water suppliers said there was a sharp increase in water usage on Tuesday, but that no records were set.

John Foley, a spokesman for the Moulton Niguel Water District, said a record number of gallons was used in the district that supplies Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo and Dana Point last week--not during the height of the heat wave.

Irvine Ranch Water District showed an increase of 30% Tuesday compared to other typical summer days.

Joyce Gwidt said the usage on that day was about 60% above the annual daily figure.

Edison spokesman David Barron said electricity demand dropped “a long way down” Wednesday in the Southland, peaking at 14,496 megawatts on a day when the high was 85. Except for two major heat spells, he said, the summer has generally been temperate and electricity use has been manageable.

Electricity use may taper off, but water demand is expected to stay at near-record levels for the rest of the week. It is not just the heat, Malinowski said. Water demand was also created by industries gearing back up from a long weekend; homeowners returning from Labor Day travels to water their lawns, and students running sinks, showers and water fountains as another school year begins.


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