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Raging Trickle? : Theme Park Hopes Its Water Supplier Will Look at Past Conservation Efforts and Spare It From a 30% Cut

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Raging Waters plans to unveil its new Amazon Adventure attraction in May--right when the theme park’s water supplier intends to institute mandatory water rationing for its customers.

How can Raging Waters expect to get away with making such a big splash in the middle of a drought? Easy--it’s counting on being spared the 30% cutbacks the Southern California Water Co. wants to require of the rest of its customers.

Officials of “the largest water theme park west of the Mississippi” say they deserve a break because they have already cut park water use by nearly 50% from 1989, when $100,000 was spent on devices to recycle and minimize water loss.

Southern California Water Co. officials say they are not unsympathetic. “Anybody, like Raging Waters, that has put in a considerable amount of recycling equipment . . . we’ll take all that into consideration,” said Thomas J. Bunosky, director of water resources for Southern California Water.

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Although park officials have not yet formally approached the water company for an exemption, Bunosky said customers who have been aggressive in conservation won’t be penalized and that “each case will be individually analyzed.”

Southern California Water is waiting for the California Public Utilities Commission to approve its proposal for mandatory cuts.

Like some other suppliers, the company is asking its 127,000 customers throughout Los Angeles County to make cutbacks based on the amount of water used in the previous year.

But officials at Raging Waters say 1990 is not a fair benchmark for them, noting that usage by that time was already significantly lower because of actions taken two years ago.

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“We saw there was a water shortage problem,” said Kent Lemasters, general manager of the 44-acre park. “We took a very aggressive posture, thinking there would be some consideration of (the conservation efforts.)”

The park’s attractions now use water that is recirculated after being treated.

Among other measures, the sandy bottom of one pool was paved to prevent leakage; poolside areas were reshaped to allow splashed-out water to drain back in, and landscaped areas were reduced to cut back on irrigation.

Lemasters said the water usage dropped so much it “amazed us.”

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In 1989, the park used 78 million gallons of water.

The next year--even with a 21% increase in customers (625,000)--the park used 39 million gallons.

The reduction also translated into lower water bills. In 1989, the park’s total bill $70,989. The next year, even with a rate increase, it was $57,214.

Gil Lopez, superintendent of the water company’s San Dimas district, confirmed that the park has saved substantial quantities of water.

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Even though 39 million gallons might seem like a lot, park officials defended the use by pointing out that Raging Waters provides jobs and entertainment.

Lemasters ruefully noted that the park was a little ahead of its time with its conservation measures. If the changes were being made now, he said, instead of in 1989, “We’d look like heroes.”


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