In Want of Water

Aug 11, 2014

Calidroughtblueyellow_takepart.comOn January 17, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed a state of emergency and requested that all state residents voluntarily reduce their water use by 20%. (

How’d you do?

News outlets reported that we cut our water usage by a measly five percent.

According to Jennifer Guess of Pasadena Water and Power, the city of Pasadena has been proactive, going back five years to 2009 when the city council approved a permanent water waste ordinance with 13 water waste restrictions—to be observed at all times, drought or no drought. Also at that time, the council put in place the process by which the city could declare a level 1-4 water shortage.

Forty percent of Pasadena’s water comes from local ground water while 60% is doled out through the Metropolitan Water District, which is two-pronged, coming from the California State Water Project up north and the Colorado River Aqueduct.

The pictures are startling: Lake Oroville, part of the CSWP, at full capacity…


In 2008 during a flyover by Governor Brown…

Lake Oroville_2008

Lake Oroville, north of Sacramento and Yuba City, during our extended drought…



On July 28th, the City of Pasadena officially declared a level 1 water shortage with the goal of a 20% reduction in water use. There is not timetable, as of now, for an end date to learn whether we have succeeded or not, but PWP will monitor the situation, Guess says, look at the conservation numbers, observe how residents participate, and compare their findings with other cities’ efforts. Guess explained that PWP is driving the conversation along with the Municipal Services Committee in order to educate the public, aid the public in water conservation, keep aware of strategies and tactics other cities are implementing and the levels of success, and keeping the city council updated on the situation.

The City of Los Angeles has only four people who police 460 square miles according to an article by Dashiell Young-Saver of the L.A. Times (August 11, 2014). Here in Pasadena, PWP has “one dedicated person” on its water conservation team, Guess told us, who spends eight hours a day looking for water waste or following up on reports of waste.

If water waste is observed, you may fill out a form here or call Pasadena Water & Power directly at 626.744.8888.

The general citizen line when calling Pasadena City Hall directs one to PWPweb where people may find suggestions on how to save water, though most of them seem fairly obvious—shorter showers, wash only full loads of laundry, and turn off the faucet while brushing teeth or shaving—we were surprised not to see any mention of washing dishes without having the water run continuously, which I know can be rampant in our house when both sinks are full and people are feeling too lazy to remove the dishes, fill one tub with hot water and dish soap, wash and place in empty tub, then rinse quickly. But the water police are on it! If  the people in the household—who we consider to be anyone who is currently eating out of our refrigerator—don’t remember on their own, we remind each other (sometimes in a friendly manner, sometimes not). This drought is no joke…



When a friend visited last week, we cringed when she took a second shower every afternoon, and they were not short ones. Coming from one of the wetter states north of us, she was oblivious to our drought, and as she was on vacation, we didn’t want to enforce restrictions. Let’s just say, our showers were faster than ever and we may smell a tad more perfume-y than usual (thank you, lor’, for lavender body spray).

Just the thought of dealing with government agencies can make us feel lightheaded in anticipation of misinformation and endless red tape, but there are options for rebates in regard to upgrading to energy saving devices in the home—central air, furnaces, heat pumps, testing and treatment of ducts, and solar installation. If you’re interested and battle-strong, check out the PDF called “PWP: Clean Energy Finance Guide” (the first bullet under program news and events at

Another possibly helpful page could be the “Save Money” page. Information on irrigation and landscaping is available as well. Pasadena’s Turf Removal Program is offering rebates of $2 or more per square foot of turf removed. If lawns are grass, remember, no watering outside between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., and only on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday through October 31st. For the complete list of restrictions, click here.

And whether we’re residents of Pasadena or another town in San Gabriel Valley, water conservation is here to stay—so we might as well settle in and make these water wise efforts a habit.


Folsom Lake (below) in northern California, July 2011. Photo courtesy of California Department of Water Resources; sourced from


Folsom Lake, January 16, 2014…



From the Association of California Water Agencies (

City of Arcadia – Aug. 6: Phase I mandatory restrictions: No hose washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, or parking areas, no water can be used to clean, fill, or maintain levels in decorative fountains, unless such water is part of a recycling system; no watering lawn, landscape, or turf areas between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., no run-off; no leaks; water served upon request only. If residents break the rules they will be subject to a surcharge penalty for water in excess of the base amount supplied to them. Residents caught breaking the rules three times could see a $100 fine.

City of Pasadena – July 28: declared a local  water emergency, establishing a 20% conservation goal and implementing  the city’s Level 1 Water Supply Shortage Plan, with mandatory water waste  restrictions effective immediately. Watering limited to three days per week in summer, one  day per week in winter and requires that leaks be repaired within 72 hours, in  addition to permanent water waste prohibition. Fines for repeat offenders can be up to $500 per violation for  residential customers, and up to $1,000 per violation for commercial accounts.

City of Sierra Madre – Implemented mandatory water conservation measures for all water customers in Sierra Madre in May 2013. Still in effect.


Upcoming Events (text courtesy of PWP):

Join Us for Pasadena’s Energy Roadmap Movie Event

This event is the first in a 3-part series of future events this year regarding PWP’s Power Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).  The IRP is a long-range blueprint for providing our customers with reliable, environmentally-responsible electric service, competitive rates and energy independence over the next 20 years.

Event Details:

  • Choose from Wed. Aug. 27 at 6:30 p.m. or Sat. Aug. 30 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Attendees will be the first to see PWP’s  Energy Roadmap Video Series!
  • The same 1-hour program will be held on both days.
  • Event will be held at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 Movie Theaters: 673 East Colorado Blvd.
  • Attendees will get a free LED bulb, popcorn, and other goodies.

RSVP Required– Seating is limited. RSVP for either date at or call 626-744-7311




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