February 2010 marked a milestone in Los Angeles water conservation. In its ninth consecutive month of water conservation, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) customers reached 1979 water use levels – despite having added more than a million people to its population in the past three decades. LADWP customers conserved 30 billion gallons (enough for 231,000 homes for a year) in the last nine months and have saved nearly 50 billion gallons of water since July 2007 (enough to serve 381,000 households per year). Los Angeles, like many areas throughout the state, is greatly dependant on imported water. In the past few years imported water has become less reliable, and thus the Governor and the Legislature have called on water utilities to reduce water use by 20% by the year 2020. LADWP’s achievement demonstrates that this is possible.
The next obvious tier in water use efficiency is recycled water and reuse. Throughout California, nearly four million acre feet of potentially recyclable water are discharged to the ocean and bays each year. This water can easily be captured, cleaned up and reused within the system.
Water Recycling has long been recognized as a cost-effective and drought-proof method of helping to meet California’s water needs, while reducing reliance on imported sources. Senate Bill 918 (Pavley), a bill sponsored by the Planning and Conservation League and WaterReuse, will help the Department of Public Health develop and adopt uniform water recycling criteria for supplementing water storage while ensuring that new facilities are fully protective of public health. SB 918 will smooth out the process to increase recycled water use and help California reach our 20-by-2020 targets.