California is staring into the dusty, dry face of drought once again. Right now, Los Angeles County, including the Santa Clarita Valley, is experiencing an “exceptional drought.” Our local precipitation level is on track to be the driest year on record. We are not alone, as record-breaking dry weather has taken hold of much of California and the western states.
In fact, conditions are so dry, the governor declared a drought emergency for most of the state and called on all Californians to voluntarily save 15% of their water use compared to 2020. Some communities are requiring mandatory cutbacks, and farmers in some areas of the state have been ordered to stop diverting water entirely. Reservoirs like Oroville and Shasta are at historic lows.
Adding to the challenge locally is that SCV Water has several groundwater wells temporarily out of service while we install treatment systems to remove contaminants. These new treatment systems will ensure our customers receive safe, clean water.
We have planned for dry years.
Although this drought is dire in many parts of the west, the good news is that SCV Water has planned to withstand dry years by storing water in wet years. For years, we’ve been planning for cyclical dry times and investing in reliable and drought-resilient water supplies. We also have a robust water conservation program and rely on our customers to be water-efficient. Here are a few of the ways we’re working to meet our community’s water needs today and long into the future:
We use recycled water at multiple locations throughout the SCV. We’re also expanding our recycled water program, where feasible, to ensure groundwater and imported water are saved for drinking.
For years, we have banked water in underground aquifers in Kern County. This water is stored and available for us to use in dry years. In fact, this year and last year, we have pulled some of that water out of storage rather than require mandatory cutbacks. We have saved this water for just such a year.
Together with our customers, we’ve made significant investments in developing, maintaining and managing drought-resilient water supplies.
We have launched a very successful fixture retrofit program for multi-family apartment housing.
Our customers have made use of our turf replacement incentive program at their homes, business parks, and educational facilities, and we are revamping the program this year based on customer feedback to do even more.
We’ve proactively planned for cyclical droughts and have developed a Water Shortage Contingency Plan to ensure that we have adequate water supplies in the event of a shortage (drought, earthquake, fire or another catastrophic event).
Our Groundwater Sustainability Plan and Urban Water Management Plan direct our long-term resource planning to assure water supplies are available to meet future water needs.
However, to successfully weather these dry conditions into 2022 or beyond, we need everyone in our community to help use water wisely. We’ve saved before, and we can do it again. Water we don’t use this year will be around for our needs next year and the year after. As a first step, SCV Water is asking our customers to embrace the 15% voluntary conservation goal.
Simple steps for saving water
So, what does it look like to reach our 15% target? For SCV Water customers, it equates to saving 31 gallons per person, per day. The good news is that small, water-wise actions can add up to big water savings, and the more we save now, the more we can store for future dry years. For most customers, outdoor water use is the highest part of their overall water use. But leaks or outdated indoor fixtures can also be easy areas to save. SCV Water offers our customers a wide variety of resources and incentives. Here’s how you can help save water at home or at your business:
Residents, businesses, HOAs and others can save water and money through turf replacement, smart irrigation controllers, high-efficiency irrigation upgrades, and more. Sign up for a free home drought-ready checkup and receive support in finding and implementing ways to prepare your home for continued drought.
Learn more about the drought and ways to save water at home and earn $20 by completing the online WaterSMART Workshop.
Dive in to SCV Water’s water-wise learning programs and resources. We’re offering virtual garden classes and partnering with community organizations to provide more water-wise information to our customers.
Head to our website to check out step-by-step tips and easy-to-follow videos to reduce unintended water waste by detecting home leaks, fixing a toilet and giving your irrigation system a tune-up.
Report water waste in the SCV, so we can make every drop count.
Sign up for our Water Currents e-newsletter to get drought updates and news sent directly to your inbox.
Get started today at https://DroughtReadySCV.com.
On behalf of everyone at SCV Water, we thank you for your continued stewardship of our community’s water supply. Together, we can all do our part to save water, so we have enough to meet our needs in the coming years.
Matt Stone is the general manager of SCV Water.