The Long Beach Water Department announced today that the city’s water usage for the month of August dipped to consumption levels not seen since 1958 as Long Beach continues to set the standard for conservation during a historically dry year.
The announcement comes just one month after the department put out a release detailing how July’s water usage in the city had also hit the lowest point since 1958. The numbers for August reflect a 23 percent decrease in the city’s historical usage for the month based on a 10-year average calculated from 1998-2007.
California's drought, which currently has enveloped nearly 82 percent of the state in extreme or exceptional drought conditions according to Drought Monitor, has widely been considered the worst in recorded history with few signs of letting up making the conservation efforts of the city's residents all the more important.
“Long Beach continues to make monumental strides in our water conservation efforts,” stated Harry Saltzgaver, President of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. “This second victory in a row shows our community is embracing the need for conservation behavior change, and we need to keep moving forward with this momentum.”
Conservation across the city —which has come amid state water usage increasing by one percent overall and Southern California consumption trending up by eight percent according to the State Water Resources Control Board—has been a two-pronged attack; the Water Department’s aggressive reminders to save water and increased rebates, coupled with citizens’ follow-through on water restriction rules and investments in water-efficient landscaping and devices.
According to the water department, nearly 300 devices were reserved through the Residential SoCal WaterSmart rebate program (clothes washers, toilets, rotating irrigation nozzles) and almost 7,000 devices were reserved through the Commercial SoCal WaterSmart rebate program (flow restrictors, toilets that use 1.06 gallons per flush). The city also increased residential rebates for high-efficiency toilets by $100 (up from $50), raised the Lawn-to-Garden incentive from $3 to $3.50 per square foot and quadrupled (from $50 to $200) the rebate for multi-family apartment and condos utilizing the high efficiency, 1.06 gallon per flush toilets.
Funding for the rebates originates from a partnership between the water department and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). According to a release from the MWD last month, demand for water-saving rebates over the first seven months of this year “skyrocketed,” with commercial rebates nearly tripling and residential rebates doubling compared to the same period last year.
“The tremendous public response clearly demonstrates that Southern California residents and businesses are fully engage and enthusiastically answering the statewide mandate to lower demands in this difficult drought,” Metropolitan board chairman Randy Record said in the statement.
Long Beach already offered one of the highest rebates in the state for turf removal before raising it to $3.50 per square foot last month. The water department stated that this summer the number of applications for the Lawn-to-Garden program has averaged nearly 130 per month, more than doubling the average of 52 applicants normally received in a given month. To date, 1,400 lawns have been transformed, with over 1.5 million square feet of grass being removed from the city.