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Pipeline leak prompts 15-day watering ban in portions of L.A. County


Drought-pummeled lawns across Los Angeles County will be a little bit thirstier for 15 days in September when officials suspend outdoor watering in several areas to repair a leaking pipeline, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced Monday.

The emergency repair will shut down the 36-mile Upper Feeder pipeline — which delivers water from the Colorado River to Southern California — from Sept. 6-20, the MWD said. The leak was discovered earlier this year, and the pipeline has been operating at reduced capacity under a temporary fix while officials designed a more permanent solution.

“We need to make this urgent repair to ensure this infrastructure can continue serving Southern California in the immediate term and for years to come,” MWD Water System Operations Manager Brent Yamasaki said in a statement. “While we do this work, we need people who normally get water from this pipeline to eliminate their outdoor water use to stretch the limited available water supplies.”

More than 4 million people will be affected by the shutdown in cities including Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Long Beach, Pasadena, San Fernando and Torrance, as well as areas served by the Central Basin Municipal Water District, Foothill Municipal Water District, Three Valleys Municipal Water District and West Basin Municipal Water District, the MWD said.

The agency is asking affected residents to eliminate all outdoor watering during the shutdown and to be cautious about indoor use by limiting showers to 5 minutes or less, among other water-saving measures.

“We don’t take this call lightly, but it is what is needed at this time,” Yamasaki said.

Agency spokeswoman Rebecca Kimitch said the shutdown is not related to critical drought conditions on the Colorado River, which is shrinking to new lows due to climate change and chronic overuse.

Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir which is located along that river, was at 27% of its capacity on Monday, but the seven states dependent on the river have so far failed to come up with a plan to drastically reduce their usage.

Right now, “this is about a shutdown on a leaky pipe,” Kimitch said.

The Colorado River is one of two major sources for the MWD, which provides water to more than two dozen agencies in Southern California.

Residents reliant on the agency’s other primary source, the State Water Project, are already under reduced watering limits and are being asked to maintain those schedules during the shutdown. That includes two-day-a-week outdoor watering rules for areas served by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

The MWD provided the following guidance for areas affected by the upcoming shutdown:

PRIOR TO THE SHUTDOWN

General landscaping

  • Delay new plantings until after Sept. 20.
  • Avoid fertilizing lawns and plants prior to the shutdown.
  • Weed your garden to help make more water available for your plants.
  • Set your sprinkler timer to the “off” position on the evening of Sept. 5.

Lawns

  • Aerate your lawn and add compost two weeks prior to the shutdown.
  • Set mowers for a higher cut or avoid mowing. Longer grass helps reduce evaporation.
  • Do a normal watering of your lawn according to your agency’s watering schedule.

Shrubs/flowers/ground covers

  • Water deeply and early the morning of Sept. 5, or on the last day hand watering is allowed in your community before the shutdown.
  • Add mulch around your plants 3 inches from the stem. Do not irrigate mulch; pull it away while watering then put back into place
  • Shade your plants where possible with a sun cloth, canopy tents or umbrellas.
  • Water succulents and other desert plants as normal. Overwatering could harm them.

Trees

  • On Sept. 5, or on the last day hand watering is allowed in your community before the shutdown, deep-water your trees and shrubs by hand watering, setting soaker hoses or watering with a regular hose on a slow trickle. Water until soil is soaked to a depth of 8-12 inches.
  • Surround the tree with mulch before watering for added moisture retention. Make sure the mulch is 3 inches from the trunk.

DURING THE SHUTDOWN (Sept. 6-20)

Outdoors

  • Eliminate all outdoor watering.
  • Remember, two weeks of no watering will not kill your lawn. Though you will see yellowing, it will improve once your previous watering schedule resumes.
  • Do not mow your lawn. Minimize the use of your lawn for playing, parking vehicles.

Indoors

  • Put a bucket in your shower to collect water as the shower warms up. Use for houseplants, sensitive outdoor plants and areas of the lawn that may show excessive stress (hot spots).
  • Take short showers (5-minute max).
  • Do not leave water running when washing dishes. Fill a small bin or bucket with water to wash your dishes in. When you’re done, use that water for trees and grass.

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