Long Beach Declares “Imminent Water Supply Shortage”

The decision ushers in new water restrictions and is meant as a preemptive act to shore up the city's supply

Some of the toughest water restrictions in Southern California were approved Thursday, after a splash of rain from a quick-moving storm and a heavier system in the forecast inspired muted celebration in the drought-stricken region.

The board of water commissioners in Long Beach voted unanimously to declare an "Imminent Water Supply Shortage," a preemptive action meant to shore up the city’s water supply amid a looming statewide shortage.

The decision means:

  • Residents can water their lawns on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays only;
  • Restaurants cannot serve water to customers unless the customer requests a glass;
  • Sprinklers can run a maximum of 10 minutes each day designated for watering

The new rules come on top of water-saving prohibitions already in effect in Long Beach. Residents were not -- and are still not -- allowed to:

  • Water their lawns between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.;
  • Wash their cars with a hose that does not have a water shut-off nozzle;
  • Over-water their lawns to the point of causing unnecessary runoff;
  • Wash their driveways, parking areas, sidewalks, patios or other outdoor areas with a hose.

"We are fortunate to be in good shape in terms of water supply as we face this drought thanks to the prudent policies put in place by our predecessors and our staff during and after the last dry spell," said Harry Saltzgaver, president of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners.

"The action we take today is meant to be proactive, and will ensure that we can continue to provide an adequate supply of water to Long Beach residents, even in the face of continued drought conditions."

The city said Gov. Jerry Brown's emergency drought declaration, the first-ever reduction in the State Water Project allocation to zero percent, declining water storage in key California reservoirs and record low levels of rainfall and snowpack throughout the state inspired Thursday's decision in Long Beach.

After successfully reducing its water usage to among the lowest in the state during the drought of 2007-09, Long Beach is hoping the new restrictions will inspire a repeat.

"The decrease was almost exclusively driven by an aggressive outreach and education program aimed at raising awareness of the importance of water conservation," the city said.

Long Beach joins a growing list of California cities placing water restrictions on residents, or asking that they take water conservation into their own hands.

Restaurants in Santa Cruz have also barred restaurants from serving drinking water unless a customer requests it.

Earlier this month, Ventura implored its residents to reduce their water usage by 10 percent.

Santa Monica called on its residents to cut back on water usage by 20 percent. The coastal city also replaced warnings with citations for some water violations and offered rebates to fix leaky toilets.

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