City aims to join conservation effort

The city of La Cañada Flintridge is planning to join local water agencies in an aggressive public education campaign designed to promote water conservation in the foothills.

The city last year launched its Blue Ribbon Water Committee, a 16-member panel of water experts and public officials, to research and develop an action plan in response to the state's ongoing water shortage. According to the report, 87% of water in La Cañada is imported from the Metropolitan Water District, leaving the community vulnerable to rationing and rate hikes.

Among the city's water conservation priorities will be to create a "water page" on its website that will provide critical information and links, said Patrick Clarke, a city planner and committee member. Other outreach efforts will include brochures, fliers and news articles, Clarke said, as well as providing businesses with free or low-cost water-saving devices.

One of the positive outcomes of the water committee meetings was the exchange of information, said Mayor Donald Voss.

"One of the great benefits of the committee meeting process was to enhance dialogue between the various water agencies that serve our city, and some of the other constituents that were so heavily involved," Voss said. "I think the city learned a lot from the water companies; the water companies learned lot from the city."

The city has already started employing water-saving technology, said Councilman Dave Spence, a committee member. A computerized water system installed last year in city medians and parks has cut water usage by about 50%, he said.

"Since we had a relatively wet year, everybody thinks the problem is resolved," Spence said. "But the professionals were telling us, 'Don't get excited, it is not going to last.' We still have a drought focus for the next three or four years."

Water conservation is going to be a long-term commitment that will require the involvement of the city, residents and water companies, said committee member Richard Atwater.

"We all need to come back in October, next spring and in the next few years to make sure we continue to work together," Atwater said. "Needless to say, now that the $11.2-billion water bond is off the table, we have a lot of work to do."

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