Gov. Jerry Brown announced late last week a $1 billion emergency drought package that focused largely on fast-tracking funding to areas affected by the drought in the state.
The Senate budget committee approved the proposal Wednesday.
Some of the measures in Brown’s drought package include expediting $128 million from the governor’s budget to go toward assisting workers and communities affected by the drought. Some of the funds will also go toward the implementation of the state’s Water Action Plan.
The Water Action Plan is a five-year program for sustainable water management in the state. The plan focuses on several state agencies to implement water-conservation efforts throughout California, which include technical and financial assistance for urban and agricultural communities.
Additionally, the plan calls for protection of groundwater and the restoration and maintenance of the state’s ecosystems, including the Delta region.
The governor’s announcement also highlighted $272 million for safe drinking water and water recycling programs.
The announcement included an emergency regulation prohibiting several new usages of water in the state, such as a statewide call for restaurants and other food service establishments not to serve water unless customers request it and for hotels and motels to provide guests with the option not to have their linen and towels laundered daily to reduce wash-water usage.
Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and other cities have already adopted many of the governor’s water-conservation programs voluntarily. However, many of the regulations are now mandatory in the state.
However, complicating conservation efforts are the consistent water main breaks going throughout the city.
At approximately 1:45 a.m. last Saturday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) was notified of a ruptured pipe at 7260 Beverly Blvd., just east of Pan Pacific Park and north of Park La Brea.
Approximately 10 to 15 commercial customers lost service until DWP repaired the broken pipe nearly 12 hours later at 1:30 p.m. Additional road repair was completed at 4 p.m.
The rupture occurred in a six-inch main water pipe, according to DWP. Numerous water pipe ruptures and leaks have occurred in recent years. According to DWP data, there have been approximately 11,202 leaks from 2006 to 2013 — with 1,058 leaks occurring in 2013 alone. However, the Los Angeles Times cited the most updated figure at approximately 13,000 leaks.
“While any loss of water is unfortunate, it is important to remember that pipe breaks across the city are down nearly 40 percent [from 2006 to 2013],” said Albert Rodriguez, spokesperson for DWP.
Over the past 10 years, there has been an average of three leaks or breaks per day, mostly small ones, according to DWP data.
DWP’s underground water pipe grid has approximately 7,200 miles of pipe, which includes piping scheduled to be replaced. DWP grades the pipes A, B, C, D and F, depending on the age, leak history, surrounding soil conditions and other factors.
Approximately 0.2 percent of mainline pipes are at a high risk of failure and given an F grade, according to department data. However, the percentage of mainline pipes with moderate risk of failure, which are given a C grade, is 38 percent, according to department data.
Last year, severe pipe ruptures occurred and millions of gallons of water were lost when a water main broke near UCLA, and another ruptured occurred near West Hollywood.
“The total amount of water lost from the West Hollywood and UCLA trunk line ruptures last summer [and fall] is equal to less than 1 percent of the water used by all Angelenos in just one week — a relatively small amount of water in a vast water system,” Rodriguez said.
In the governor’s statement, Brown highlighted the Executive Order issues last fall fast-tracking funds to families with drinking and sanitation water shortages. Brown also called for all Californians to reduce their water usage by 20 percent.
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