Arcadia Water Conservancy Efforts Help Attain New Heights of Water Storage

Late May in the San Gabriel Reservoir. Tree branches reach the surface of the off-roading vehicle area that was transformed from a dry lakebed into water storage following the heavy rainfall this year. – Photo by Galen Patterson / Beacon Media News

By Galen Patterson

Benefits of low water usage reach across state lines

The Arcadia City Council received an update on the state of Arcadia’s water supply on the evening of June 4 at the regular City Council meeting.

The presentation was given by Tom Love, general manager of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (MWD). MWD manages local and supplemental water for 17 cities in the San Gabriel Valley, and services 950,000 people including Arcadia.

Municipal water storage is measured in acre-feet, which is equivalent to one acre (43,560 square-feet) with a depth of 1 foot. MWD reports 200,000 acre-feet of water used comes from local sources such as collected rainfall, runoff and aquifers, while 30,000 acre-feet are imported from outside Southern California. Estimated figures reported by MWD are 80 percent local water usage and 20 percent imported water.

The imported water comes from Northern California and the Colorado River, which is the river that runs through the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

“We had a great year,” Love told the city, referring to the amount of rainfall California received, explaining that the state has received 65.5 inches of rainfall during the water year, which began in October.

Love pointed out that the watershed that supplies the Colorado River importing source has not been so lucky and estimated a 60 percent chance in 2020 that it would not be able to fulfill the demand for their water exporting.

“The Colorado River watershed has been in much more severe drought than we’ve been here in Southern California,” said Love.

What this means is that Southern California’s water conservation efforts in recent years have paid off, and the benefits have reached across multiple state lines contributing to management efforts in other parts of the country. “In fact, metropolitan hasn’t seen demands (for water consumption) this low since the 1970s,” Love said in his presentation.

The United States Drought Monitor shows that almost the entire state of California is no longer in a drought. Parts of Southern California still remain in drought conditions, and the San Gabriel Valley appears to be near the border of the areas still in drought.

MWD now has a new record high in water storage, holding 3.3 million acre-feet for use in its communities. 2018 levels reached 2.5 million acre-feet.

However, Love cautions, “we do not know how severe or how long the next drought will be and we do know for sure there will be another drought.”

June 5, 2019

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Galen Patterson

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