Drought habits hard to break for SCV residents

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Although the drought is over, drought-conscious habits remain for many Santa Clarita Valley residents still actively saving water in the middle of summer.

As SCV residents emerge from a month of temperatures tripping over and under the triple-digit heat mark, The Signal checked on Thursday – at the height of summer – with the water agencies to see just how much water is being saved.

All three – the Santa Clarita Water Division, Valencia Water Company and the Newhall County Water District – reported a significant amount of water is still being conserved.

“We continue to be thankful for our customers desire to be efficient and are encouraged they seem to be making a proactive choice to make conservation a way of life,” NCWD General Manager Steve Cole told The Signal Thursday.

“NCWD remains committed to assisting our customers to achieve their water use efficiency goals,” he said.

Water used last month by NCWD customers was reduced by 14.6 percent of what they used in June 2013.  In May, they used 16.6 percent of what they used in May 2013.

During the multi-year drought which gripped California and communities across the state such as the SCV, Governor Jerry Brown in setting mandatory conservation goals for comparison water used by Californians in 2013 before the drought began.

“Actually, we still file the reports monthly (to state officials),” SCWD Retail Manager Keith Abercrombie said Thursday.

Santa Clarita Water District

SCWD water users used 8.6 percent less water in June compared to what they used four years ago.

“And, while we’ve seen some eroding of conservation percentages since the Governor declared the ‘drought was over’ we appreciate our customers continuing to save water,” Abercrombie said Thursday.

“And we want to encourage them to keep up these efforts and to take advantage of the rebate incentive programs that are still in place to help increase their irrigation efficiencies or to install pool covers, or to remove turf,” he said.

Although many of the drought rules have fallen away, runoff – or water from lawn sprinklers that ends up running down driveways and over sidewalks – still tops of the list of water unwanted water habits, water officials say.

“We would also remind everyone, that a number of restrictions, including having ‘no runoff’ when irrigating are still in place,” Abercrombie said.

Valencia Water Company

Residents who get their water from the Valencia Water Company conserve a healthy portion of the water they have access to.

Valencia Water Company’s June 2017 usage was 14.9 percent below the amount of water it used in June 2013.  As well, the amount of water its customers saved in May amounted to 14.6 percent less than what was used in May 2013.

“While the recent winter and spring rains have provided much relief to our sources of water supply, both imported and local groundwater sources, VWC recognizes that our customers have taken significant action to reduce their water use during the drought and should continue to find ways to make these savings permanent,” VWC General Manager Ken Petersen told The Signal Thursday.

“From installing drought tolerant landscapes to taking steps to improve their irrigation efficiency, our customers have successfully responded to the call to conserve by saving more than 7.1 billion gallons of water since January 2014,” he said.

“As we move forward, VWC will continue to provide resources, education, and incentives to assist our customers with their long-term water use efficiency and conservation goals,” he said.

First responder assists at the scene of a water rescue on a creek near Meadview Avenue on Feb. 11, 2017. Dan Watson/ The Signal

Rain helped

Local water retailers got a head start on saving water this year when the SCV saw constant, nearly daily rain that fell on the SCV in February.

Simply shutting off lawn sprinklers during that time enabled retailers to conserve 40 percent of the water used in 2013, officials reported.

The cumulative statewide savings from June 2015 through February 2017 was recorded at 22.5 percent, compared with the same months in 2013, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

Castaic Lake water levels on Feb. 4, 2015.  Dan Watson/The Signal

Pool water saved

Conservation programs promoted by the region’s water wholesaler, the Castaic Lake Water Agency, still attract the support of environmentally-friendly SCV residents.

“With the coming of the summer months we have seen a modest uptick in interest for our residential turf replacement program,” said Dirk Marks, water resources manager for the CLWA, “but certainly not at the levels we experienced during the drought.”

“We are pleased that there is a fair amount of interest in our newest water conservation program that provides a rebate for customers that purchase and install pool covers,” he said, noting the covers substantially reduce the amount of evaporation form a pool.

Any pool owner interested in putting the brakes on evaporation and saving pool water is urged to call officials at the CLWA or visit conservation.clwa.org.

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