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Penalties assigned for water waste

Angie Marcos
LV Life Editor

La Verne has placed mandatory water restrictions on its residents, including the University of La Verne, requiring everyone to use less water or pay penalties.

A drought is in effect in the Northern California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which has put limitations on the amount of water Southern California receives, said Jeannette Vagnozzi, administrative superintendent of public works and La Verne city treasurer.

“The University of La Verne is under the same water restrictions as everyone else in the city of La Verne,” Vagnozzi said. “We have given our customers allocations the same way we were given allocations.”

After asking for voluntary cutbacks in March, La Verne enforced mandatory restrictions on water usage in July.

The city began issuing penalties on Oct. 15.

“Primarily it’s affecting the University in irrigation,” said Robert Beebe, associate director of facilities management. “That’s where the bulk of our water goes to.”

The University’s goal is to reduce water usage by 20 percent in landscaping, Beebe said.

“We want to do the right thing,” Beebe said.

“It’s not just about the money. We want to be environmentally responsible, “ he added.

About 75 percent of the city’s water is imported, Vagnozzi said.

“The problem area for the last few years has been the Delta,” said Bob Muir, spokesman for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. “The Delta is in a state of environmental collapse.”

“It is not a natural drought. It is more of an artificial supply problem,” Muir said. “It’s impacting about 19 million Southern Californians.”

“The Metropolitan Water District allotted a certain amount of water to each of its own member agencies,” said Mario Garcia, an engineer at Three Valley Municipal Water District, which serves the eastern San Gabriel Valley.

Whether a city decides to put mandatory restriction policies in place is each city’s decision. How much water each city is allotted depends on that particular city’s past water use, Garcia said.

“Each city has a certain quantity of water they can use over the next fiscal year, which started in July,” Garcia said.

La Verne is allowed 6,299 acre-feet of water before being penalized.

“This program will go through the fiscal year,” Garcia said. “The Metropolitan Water District will probably decide around April or May of 2010 whether they will continue the Water Supply Allocation Program.”

The penalty funds collected by the Metropolitan Water District will be used for investments in conservation and the development of local resources.

Judge Oliver W. Wagner made the court ruling in 2007 limiting the amount of water that can be taken from the Delta. Wagner directed federal resource agencies, more specifically that of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to develop a new solution.

While this is being done, Wagner placed pumping restrictions that cut the amount of water Metropolitan Water District is able to deliver from Northern California by a third, Muir said.

An $11 billion bond that could possibly lead to the construction of the peripheral canal and more dams will be placed on the November 2010 California ballot. The peripheral canal would divert water from the Sacramento River around the Delta.

New regulations were formed this year, but the federal court decision about water conservation took place two years ago.

The allocation action in which the Metropolitan Water District penalizes those who surpass their water limit, went into place in April.

“There are restrictions in the amount of water we can take from Northern California,” Muir said. “That is a huge thing.”

Metropolitan Water District imposes allocations on Three Valley Municipal Water District, who imposes allocation on the city of La Verne, who imposes allocations on the residents of La Verne.

“It’s all about usage and how we reduce water,” Beebe said. “What I am encouraging everyone to do is to reduce water.”

Water conservation in La Verne comes down to three areas: irrigation, the University’s residence halls and the residents of La Verne, Beebe said.

Although the city has issued the University small penalties for the over usage of water, the University is examining why exactly this happened, Beebe said.

“The city has been very willing to work with us,” Beebe said. “The outlook is absolutely positive.”

For a complete listing of La Verne’s mandatory water use restrictions now in effect, visit the city’s Web site at www.ci.la-verne.ca.us.

Angie Marcos can be reached at angie.marcos@laverne.edu.

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