Claremont’s brown grass evidence of conservation efforts

You can’t drive down a Claremont street these days without passing a lawn or two that has succumbed to the effects of the drought.

While many residents may long for the days of lush green grass beneath their toes, others consider their brown patch a badge of honor as they comply with the state-imposed mandate of conserving water.

Regardless of your view, Claremont residents can take comfort in knowing that for the second consecutive month, Golden State Water Company has exceeded water conservation reductions mandated by Governor Jerry Brown, with Claremont users decreasing water consumption by a whopping 42 percent in June.

The governor issued the executive order this past April, mandating a 25 percent cut statewide in urban water use by 2016. Individual water districts, depending on their level of water use, were ordered to reduce water consumption between 4 and 36 percent with those districts with a history of heavy water use cutting more.

Claremont was hit with a 32 percent reduction from water use in 2013 and has done well in meeting its monthly conservation goal.

“We’re glad to see the residents complying with the mandate,” Assistant City Manager Colin Tudor said. “It’s important that everyone remain mindful of their water usage. The earlier summer months tend to be more mild, and we’re hopeful that residents will continue to conserve as the temperatures heat up in the months ahead.”

In May 2015, Claremont water consumption decreased by 40 percent compared to May 2013 and with a 42 percent decrease for June 2015 compared to June 2013, it appears residents are getting serious about their conservation efforts.

Perhaps it’s because Claremont residents know that if they don’t maintain at least a 32 percent reduction from the 2013 numbers, they face the possibility of water rations and surcharges for each household from Golden State Water Company. In June, the limit on lawn watering was two days per week and the district issued only one warning and assessed no penalties. That’s an impressive track record.

Providing water to a population of 37,160, the Golden State Water Company Claremont is part of the South Coast hydrologic region that includes the cities of Ventura, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego, among others.

In June 2015, Golden State Water Company Claremont distributed 239 million gallons of water, a sharp decrease from the 415 million gallons provided in June 2013. Residential use made up 64 percent of total water consumed in the city, with each resident using on average 137 gallons of water a day—a number well above the 97.7-gallon state average.

By comparison, residents in the city of La Verne used an average of 160 gallons of water each day in June 2015, while Pomona residents used an average of 86 gallons per day.

As a whole, urban water districts used 27 percent less water statewide in June 2015 than in 2013.

The next monthly update, with July water-use figures,  is due in late August.

Mandatory statewide water restrictions took effect in May, limiting water to turf in city medians and parks to two days per week. While many other cities have access to reclaimed or recycled water that they’re using on their parks and medians, Claremont does not. Therefore, the city staff is working on alternative plans to deal with the drought and the current restrictions.

The city is already moving forward with plans to re-landscape Shelton Park, the Indian Hill Boulevard medians and Claremont City Hall to reduce turf. The medians on Foothill Boulevard and First Street will have the turf removed and replaced with mulch.

As previously reported in the COURIER, many of the turf areas within city parks have become brown with the reduction of watering to only two days per week, sparking concern from residents who utilize the local sports fields. While passive park turf areas will remain on a two-day-per-week watering schedule, Golden State Water Company recently granted the city one extra day per week of watering to be applied to all athletic fields.

“It’s not for the entire park, just the sports fields,” Mr. Tudor explained.

Just how the city’s additional water day will affect July’s water-use figures is anybody’s guess.

“It may have a slight increase in the city’s water use but we are also decreasing our watering at the more passive parks,” said Mr. Tudor. “We’re trying hard to find a balance.”

The city is using water bags for city trees in the Village and encourages residents to deep-water their own trees as well as city trees in the right of way, at least once a week at the drip line, to ensure tree health during the drought. Deep watering is done less often, but in a way the soaks the roots of the tree slowly and with less wasted water.

To report water wasting or water leaks, call Golden State Water Company at (800) 999-4033. A representative is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

—Angela Bailey


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