PALMDALE — Despite a statewide drought of historic proportions and efforts to encourage water conservation, customers in Palmdale Water District are using more water this year than last, which in itself was the highest amount used since before the previous drought.
Customers used a total 17,213 acre-feet of water in 2020, the most used since the 18,127 acre-feet used in 2014, General Manager Dennis LaMoreaux reported to the Board of Directors on Aug. 23.
With 1,109 acre-feet used in July, the trend has continued, showing an increase of 12.8% over the first seven months of last year, he said.
An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons, or approximately the amount of water a typical Antelope Valley household used in one year, before the last drought reduced water usage.
Beginning in April and reaffirmed earlier this month, the District asked customers to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15%.
With customers using about 13% more this year, “that means we’re quite a ways off of that (target),” LaMoreaux said.
“Hopefully, our message is starting to get through,” he said.
The District implemented Stage Two of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan earlier this month, which allows officials to toggle between voluntary conservation, where it stands now, and mandatory measures, if necessary.
The District is continuing its information and education efforts to encourage customers to reduce their water use, focus outreach on large water users and ask customers to consider converting to more efficient irrigation methods and to take advantage of the District’s rebates.
Information on rebates and other water-saving measures is available on the District’s website, www.palmdalewater.org
The District’s water plan shows it has the capacity to withstand one year of drought without depleting supplies, but the problem becomes more acute if drought continues for consecutive years.
A 15% reduction in water use this year will help ensure supplies for next year, officials said.
State Water Project deliveries this year are down to only 5% of their allotment. This water, delivered through the California Aqueduct, is one of three sources of water for the District. A second source, water collected in the reservoir behind Littlerock Dam from runoff in the San Gabriel Mountains, is also severely depleted.
The District has the capacity for pumping enough groundwater to meet supply needs this year, but that amount will decrease next year, under the terms of the court judgment that dictates groundwater rights in the Valley.
The District has implemented water saving strategies of its own. Over the past decade, the District has taken a proactive stance to reduce water line leaks by replacing failing water mains and meters. This has resulted in a reduction of main line leaks from a high of 781 in 2010, to 26 so far this year.