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Flow restrictors help encourage water conservation in Los Angeles County

  • Flow restrictors help encourage water conservation in Angeles County

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The new water year began in California on October 1st amid concerns about the continuing drought – the 12-month period from October 1st to September 30th is used by water managers to compile and compare hydrologic records. The three-year period from 2020 to 2022 is now the driest on record going back to 1896.

California announced water restrictions last January as part of efforts to reduce water use in the state in response to the drought. The Las Vírgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD), in Los Angeles County, limited outdoor watering to one day per week starting June 1. A ban on any outdoor water may follow if the water supply conditions do not improve, though it is not likely before December 1st, 2022.

To ensure residents abide by water restrictions, the district started using a simple device to restrict water flow to those residents that are wasting too much water, informed the Los Angeles Times. The device, a flow restrictor, is a small metal disk with an opening in the middle. Once installed in a pipe, it can slow down water flow from 30 gallons per minute to less than one gallon per minute, thereby allowing for sufficient indoor use, but not sufficient outdoor use.

Las Vírgenes is one of the top water users in the state, with an average of 205 gallons per person per day last year, about 70% of it going to outdoor uses. Officials hope to curb that usage down to 80 gallons per person per day. The flow restrictors may be installed for customers who have not reduced their water usage since December 2021 and who have exceeded 150% of their monthly water budget – an amount calculated based on the number of people in the household, the amount of irrigated land and the time of year – at least four times.

Water district staff visit the homes of wasteful customers and offer them to sign a form committing to control the amount of water they use, which includes a water survey to let them know where water can be saved. Otherwise, installing a water restrictor is an option.

The district is home to many celebrities whose mansions have large water-guzzling gardens, and they have to abide by the same water conservation standards as everyone else. The Guardian lists a series of celebrities who have had a restrictor put in place, including comedian Kevin Hart, rapper The Game, and Kourtney Kardashian’s ex, Scott Disick. Addresses linked to known names have been included in the list of those eligible for flow restrictors, such as Kim Kardashian, Sylvester Stallone and Madonna.

Cason Gilmer, senior field customer service representative for the district, says most customers, celebrities or not, are reasonable. Also, there are people who do not even realize how much water they use. The water district has installed smart meters for customers since last June, to have water use data every hour instead of every month. The district is using the flow restricting device sparingly, believing more in outreach and public education to promote water conservation, but claim it is having a huge deterrent effect, and lawns around the district are looking browner. “The idea is for people to change their behavior and what their relationship is with water in order for us to collectively be successful,” said water district spokesperson Mike McNutt.

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