L.A. water use plummets during hot summer amid calls to conserve during drought
(Updated at 11:20 a.m. Monday on Friday, July 2, by Steve Thommessen and Tom Vanden Brook)
LOS ANGELES — City officials say Los Angeles is on pace to set a new record for peak water use as heat, drought, and high demand combine to push consumption into single-month territory.
And in a city that has been struggling with a water crisis for years, even as its population has declined, officials acknowledged Monday that they are unlikely to achieve the water conservation goals they have publicly promised.
There are only two weeks left in the summer and Los Angeles water departments could be going over 400 million gallons more in June (the most of any city this year), according to Department of Water and Power records and a consultant’s analysis.
For most of the year, between 60 and 70 percent of the water supply comes from surface wells, including about 30 percent that is pumped dry as the city tries to conserve its water supply in the face of an ongoing drought and a threat of possible outages due to heat, officials said in a statement released Monday afternoon.
The bulk of the drought-affected water is used to replace the water lost from the Metropolitan Water District, which supplies San Francisco, where there is no drought, officials said.
“A water savings target for Los Angeles would be a 20 percent reduction in water use in the summer months, with the goal of 20 percent by the end of the year,” said Department of Water and Power Director Michael Abrams. “That’s a reasonable goal for any city,” he said.
For the city’s four major water districts, that would mean the average daily consumption between July 1 — the day before Memorial Day — and June 30 would be 1 million gallons less than usual, according to the statement.
The water department said it will need another two or three months to reduce water use in June by that much, but that would still be six years of water conservation, and much of that can still be done, it said.
“The need for more water conservation and conservation by reducing water consumption cannot be overstated or minimized,” Abrams said. “It is both fundamental and vital that we protect our resources and preserve the quality of service that we deliver to consumers,” he said.
But at City