Lagunans asked to curtail water use

The abundant water imported by the Laguna Beach County Water District is no longer on tap.

Metropolitan Water District announced on Monday a 30% reduction in water supplied to Southern California agriculture and warned that continued dry weather will force local agencies to consider rationing.

All Laguna Beach water is imported and the Laguna Beach county Water District is asking its customers to voluntarily reduce daily water usage by 10% — about 20 gallons.

“We have no groundwater to rely on in Laguna Beach, so less water supplies means residents will need to help with the shortfall by conserving 20 gallons of water a day,” said Renae Hinchey, general manager of the Laguna Beach County Water District.


“Our imported water supplier, Metropolitan Water District, is currently developing its shortage allocation process, which will affect all Southern California water agencies. That’s not good news for Laguna Beach. With no other source of water except the Delta and Colorado River, desalination, which we have been studying for several months, is making more sense than ever.”

Besides the drought, an Aug. 31 federal court decision imposing tougher protections for a tiny endangered fish, the delta smelt, limits the pumping operations that move fresh water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and into the southern part of the state.

“This decision will greatly impact us in Laguna Beach, because the ruling could cut off more than 30% of water deliveries to us from Northern California for at least a year,” Hinchey said. .

Water agencies statewide have launched a campaign, “California’s Water: A Crisis We Can’t Ignore,” to educate Californians about the water crisis confronting the state, Hinchey said.


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Meantime, Hinchey is hoping that a proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to float a $9 billion bond package to build three new dams in the Bay Area and the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys will make it to the Feb. 1 ballot. Voters will be asked to approve the funding by taxpayers.

The governor’s proposal includes money for water storage, restoration of the ailing Delta, development of a new conveyance system, grants for conservation and regional water projects, programs to address environmental concerns in the Delta, and other water restoration projects, according to Hinchey.

“California can no longer take its most precious natural resource for granted,” Hinchey said. “Next year will be a difficult one in securing adequate water supplies.

“Whether it is the record dry conditions, the recent federal court ruling that will drastically reduce our statewide water supply, or the growing vulnerability of our imported water supplies from the Bay Delta and the Colorado River, these challenges will affect our water supply in Laguna Beach.”