GRIFFITH PARK–Even with much needed heavy rainfall predicted today, California is experiencing its worst water shortage in modern history, according to a statement released earlier this month by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Los Angeles city officials are working to bolster the local water supply by using more recycled water and capturing more storm water.
Areas in Griffith Park have already been using recycled water for Crystal Springs, the Old Zoo and the Wilson and Harding golf courses. Added to that list this year will be the Bette Davis Picnic Area and North Atwater Park.
“We’ve actually been preparing for the last five, six years, for the drought,” said Ramon Barajas, asst. general manager for Recreation and Parks.
Recycled water is wastewater that is treated to water landscapes, golf courses, and freeway medians—basically reusing water that would otherwise be discharged into rivers or the ocean.
In the meantime, park officials continue to walk a fine line between cutting back on watering and keeping the city’s trees and landscaping alive. Some of the greenery has been in place upwards of 70 years, and officials say it would cost more to let the plants die and re-landscape then it does to keep them properly watered in the midst of a drought.
Last year was the driest on record for the state as a whole, as well as for Los Angeles with only 3.6 inches of rain recorded. Although the spattering of rain in February was a welcome respite to the dry conditions, it didn’t do much yet to bolster 2014’s rainfall numbers.
Another dry season, 2006 into 2007 only had 3.2 inches of rainfall. A fire in Griffith Park, in May of 2007, burned 900 acres.
In January, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in the state and asked all residents to reduce their water use by 20%.
But many Angelenos are already well versed in minimizing water use through basic household changes, such as opting for more efficient appliances and fixing leaky toilets or pipes.
The Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power has also long offered incentives for residents who replace their water-thirsty lawns, with succulents and gravel.
At a February press conference, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that residents would now receive $2 for every square foot of grass they trade in for drought-friendly landscaping. Since the city’s last dry spell in 2007, Los Angeles residents have cut water use by about 17%, he said, but he added conservation wasn’t enough.
“It’s another beautiful day here in Los Angeles. Unfortunately it’s another beautiful day here in Los Angeles,” said Garcetti, tongue-in-cheek, at the February media event. “We never thought we’d be asking for more bad weather.”
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