Pasadena In Focus
January - February 2011

Ten-Day Ban on Outdoor Watering

 PWP will go before City Council in late January to urge a total prohibition on outdoor watering from March 18 to 27 during a temporary shutdown of a major regional water treatment plant.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), which supplies about 60 percent of Pasadena’s water, is planning a seismic upgrade of its Weymouth Treatment Plant in LaVerne and will stop all water deliveries from the plant to Pasadena and neighboring cities to perform the retrofit.
For those 10 days, Pasadena must rely solely on groundwater and reserves. We’ll need to eliminate all outdoor watering to cut citywide water use by 40 percent.

To help you prepare for the shutdown well in advance, here are some important questions and answers about PWP’s proposed plan. Please share this information with your gardener, family, neighbors and co-workers. Notification about the final plan approved by the city council will be mailed in February to every household.

How should I prepare my garden for the shutdown?

  1. The week before (March 11 to 17), give your plants as much water as they will tolerate so they’ll be well saturated, and then cover the beds with mulch to prevent soil from drying out.
  2. The night before (March 17), turn off your automatic sprinkler system (including drip systems and smart controllers) until March 28.
  3. Talk to your gardener and let him or her know about the watering ban.
  4. Consider postponing your spring planting until after the shutdown.
  5. Check for daily updates at www.cityofpasadena.net/shutdown to see if the prohibition has been lifted early or possibly extended.

Will I be able to hand-water outdoor plants?

PWP will recommend that all methods of watering with city tap water, including by hand, hose, drip, manual and automatic sprinklers, be strictly prohibited during the shutdown, at all times. However, you may use store-bought water jugs or your personal reserve of tap water (filled and stored before the shutdown). This is a good opportunity to restock water in your earthquake preparedness kit.

Will the restrictions be enforced?

City staff will patrol for violations, respond to water-waste reports and issue fines for repeat violations in accordance with the Water Shortage Procedures Ordinance (PMC 13.10).

In the week before the shutdown, will I get fined for watering more than usual?

Due to these exceptional circumstances, PWP will temporarily ease enforcement of the current water shortage rules from March 11 to 17 only. You may water on any day that week and as much as you see fit to prepare your landscaping for the shutdown.

What should I do if I see someone watering during the shutdown?

It’s crucial that everyone comply. Please report any outdoor watering or waste to 744-8888 or at www.cityofpasadena.net/savewater.

Could the number of days of the shutdown change?

MWD anticipates a shutdown of up to 10 days, but as with all major construction projects, there could be delays that extend the shutdown. Check for daily updates at www.cityofpasadena.net/shutdown or hear recorded updates on our Water Shortage Hotline, 744-8888.

How much water will Pasadena have during the shutdown and where will it come from?

Just before the shutdown, PWP will fill its nine reservoirs with about 80 million gallons of local groundwater and MWD-imported water. As these reserves fall, PWP can replenish with up to seven million gallons of groundwater per day pumped from wells within the city. All told, Pasadena can count on 150 million gallons during the 10-day shutdown.

How much water does Pasadena usually use and how much do we need to conserve?

During a typical March, PWP customers use almost 250 million gallons over a 10-day period. During the shutdown, we’ll have only 150 million gallons, so we’ll need to use 40 percent less to stretch our supply. The only way to achieve this is a temporary ban on outdoor watering.

Won’t Pasadena’s Monk Hill water treatment plant open in March and give us more water supply for outdoor irrigation?

PWP estimates that the new treatment plant will open in March or early April, but at press time the exact date was uncertain. Therefore, PWP must plan for a shutdown without relying on the new plant.

What will happen if people continue to water outdoors during the shutdown?

There’s no room for exceptions.  PWP will continually monitor the city’s supply with advanced water system technology and post daily reports online.  If our reserves are depleting faster than expected, it’s probably a sign people aren’t complying.  Supplies for normal indoor use will be at risk and PWP may need to seek more stringent penalties and conservation measures.

If it rains, will Pasadena be able to lift the restrictions early?

Rainfall doesn’t recharge our usable water supply until many months after a storm, so it won’t make up for the shutdown. Rainfall will, however, be a relief for lawns and gardens. We can all hope for a rainy March.

If it’s very hot and dry during the shutdown and my plants are suffering, will Pasadena lift the restrictions?

MWD planned the shutdown for March, a typically rainy month, to give landscapes the best chance of getting watered naturally. Of course, MWD can’t control the weather. Even if it’s hot and dry, there will be no contingency supply for outdoor irrigation. We will have enough drinking water for indoor use only from March 18 to 27. Be sure to water and mulch before the shutdown!

Will there be restrictions on indoor water use?

No, but due to these critical circumstances, PWP recommends that everyone take extra measures to conserve indoors.

  1. Look for and immediately fix leaks under sinks, at tub, shower and faucet valves, in toilets, and at your hose pipe spout and sprinkler valves.
  2. Install low-flow shower heads and faucets.
  3. Set a timer for five minutes or less each time you shower.
  4. Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes.

For more information and daily updates, visit www.cityofpasadena.net/shutdown or call 744-8888.

Water Usage Gauge