WATER CONSERVATION STILL RECOMMENDED AFTER CITY OF AZUSA RECEIVES MORE THAN A YEAR’S WORTH OF RAIN
February 19, 2019
AZUSA, Calif. – On Tuesday, the status of the water supply to the city of Azusa and surrounding cities was addressed at the final regularly scheduled city council meeting for the month of February. The regular meeting portion that is open to the public ran around 30 minutes despite usually running for about an hour and a half. The update on water resources comes just days after the state of California has experienced a series of major winter storms decreasing the nearly decade-long drought.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the state of California has already received 18 trillion gallons of rain this month alone which is enough water to fill 27 million Olympic-sized pools. The amount of rainfall which is equivalent to nearly half the volume of Lake Tahoe, has reduced California’s water deficit significantly according to officials.
“After seven years of bad news with low water supply and drought, it’s a pleasure to be here and report good news of a wet year. We’re well above average,” said Manny Robledo, Director of Azusa Light & Water. “In fact since October, we’ve had more rain and precipitation than we’ve had the whole last year.” According to numbers recorded locally by Azusa Light & Water in the canyons, 22.6 inches of rain has fallen over the past four months compared to the yearly average of 22.5 inches.
Azusa Mayor Joseph Romero Rocha asked Robledo if there can be varying reports by each water agency because the Daily Tribune reported that 29.5 inches of rain has fallen for the season with the normal is close to 13. According to a spokesperson at the council meeting, numbers reported from records taken in the canyons can differ compared to records taken in the flatlands.
According to Robledo, 60 percent of water made available to residents of Azusa come from precipitation collected in the canyon. With local canals keeping the natural water from draining into the ocean, a treatment plant located at the canyon filters it and is then distributed to residents. The remaining 40 percent is purchased water from contracts with the state water project. The spreading grounds located in the north end of town not only allows the city to distribute water to residents of Azusa, but to its neighboring cities accordingly due to the city recently purchasing a water agency from Covina.
The purchase of the water agency was an advantage according to Robledo because it allows the city to have increased rights to the region’s water table that remains below its average despite California seeing impressive amounts of rain.
“As it took us seven years to draw down the table to a very low level, it is going to take us several years to get out of it,” explained Robledo. “We are up 10 feet from all this rain and all this spreading which is significant, but it was starting from a very low level and for that reason, we are not declaring the drought over.”
With the table seeing some improvement, it is still 45 feet below its normal operating range prompting Robledo to warn Azusa residents to continue healthy water conservation practices.
“We never want to waste water. It’s a precious resource,” said Robledo. “There are things that we can do that don’t necessarily have to change our lifestyle. We can still have a nice lifestyle, but where we also conserve water, so we’re not recommending any changes to that effect and we’re hopeful for many more wet years like this one so we can actually raise the table even more.”
The Azusa Canyon Reservoirs are responsible for storing excess water for later diversion into both the treatment plant and spreading grounds. Due to the recent rainfall prompting concerns from officials that the reservoirs could quickly reach capacity, the county flood control has released some water from the reservoirs to leave room for potential flash floods, according to Robledo. The rush of rainfall created dirt and silty water and cannot be used until the sediment drops to the bottom.
“I’m most amazed at how we continue to grow in Southern California and water is always there,” said Azusa City Council Member Uriel Macias. “You go anywhere else in the country, or even other countries and you turn on their tap and at least for half the day, they don’t get water out of the tap. In certain parts or Mexico, they only turn on the tap for one hour a day. So we’re very blessed. We are very fortunate to have the canyon.”
The city looks forward to more water in the future as the state snowpack is above the average due to record snowfall in the mountains. Robledo said that they expect the recent mountain snow to feed rivers later in the year replenishing the San Gabriel Valley basin and supporting the state water project allocation.
The next city council meeting will be March 4 with the closed session beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the regular meeting beginning at 7:30 p.m.