October 10, 2008

Long Beach Residents’ Water Use Dips to Record Low

By John Canalis

LONG BEACH - City water use was at a 10-year low at the close of the 2008 fiscal year, according to a statement issued by the city water commissioners this week.

Water demand was 9.2 percent below the 10-year average and 9.4 percent below the last fiscal year.

Long Beach customers used 6,368 acre-feet less water in fiscal 2008 than in fiscal 2007, when the city began issuing voluntary conservation protocols.

An acre-foot refers to about how much water one American family of four would use in a year, although in the drier West households tend to use much less on average.

"This is an entire community coming together and engaging itself in worthy endeavor," said John Allen, president of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. "We simply must change our lifestyle so that inefficient and wasteful uses of water, particularly outdoor uses, are no longer tolerated by anyone."

The Long Beach Water Department campaigned all year long to urge customers to reduce their use.

Another likely impact on use: The department raised rates.

California and the West are experiencing drought conditions and available supplies from the northern part of the state have declined, due to a court ruling aimed at protecting the Delta smelt. Much of Long Beach's water, however, comes from local ground sources.

Public awareness appears regarding water conservation to be growing since the last serious drought.

Long Beach consumed less water in the last 12 months than it did in any comparable year during the 1987 to 1992 drought, when rationing was mandatory and the population was 15 percent smaller.

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