Marina del Rey businesses and residents will soon be required to adhere to strict water reduction measures similar to their Los Angeles counterparts beginning Saturday, August 1st.

The county Board of Supervisors has declared that a water supply shortage exists in District 29 of the Los Angeles County WaterWorks District, which includes Marina del Rey. On June 2nd, the board approved a resolution that mandates reductions in water usage by 15 percent for residential and commercial customers of the Marina.

The West Basin Municipal Water District, the sole water supplier to Marina del Rey, has reduced the amount of water that it imports from the northern part of the state and has subsequently decided to curtail its deliveries by 15 percent.

“This means that all the customers in Marina del Rey will have to do their part to manage with limited water,” said Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents the Marina.

Melinda Barrett, water conservation manager of the Los Angeles County WaterWorks District, has met with the Marina Lessees Association and the Del Rey Yacht Club to outline what her agency’s plans are regarding water reduction and to offer assistance in maintaining the water district’s objectives.

“We’ve come up with target goals for each customer, because there are such a variety of customers and uses in the Marina,” Barrett said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought in 2008 after several consecutive years of dismal rainfall numbers. In addition, a court decision to prohibit pumping water from the Sacramento Delta to protect an endangered species of salmon further reduced available water supplies.

Those two events, coupled with the fact that the Colorado River, which supplies one of Southern California’s primary sources of drinking water, is suffering from eight years of drought and its two major reservoirs are down 50 percent of their capacity, have been instrumental in state, municipal and county agencies implementing drastic water-saving measures.

Los Angeles residents moved from Phase I to the implementation of Phase III of the city’s water conservation ordinance on June 1st, which will restrict outdoor irrigation to Mondays and Thursdays only.

Los Angeles County will impose penalties for overusage during the drought.

“The substantial surcharges for excessive usage will have to be passed through to those customers who do not cut back by 15 percent,” Knabe warned.

Barrett says that her agency is offering new initiatives that will assist residential and commercial customers in reducing their water consumption.

“Now is the time for customers to take advantage of our free conservation programs,” she said. “We offer on-site water-use evaluations and rebates for water-saving devices that can make it easier for customers.”

The supervisors secured a $250,000 grant in April that will provide additional funding for a rebate program for the installation of water-efficient toilets and washing machines, along with a new rebate program to replace high-water-use lawns.

Marina del Rey tenants, landlords and businesses will all be impacted by the water shortage.

“We have begun disseminating water-saving techniques to our lessees,” said Tim Riley of the Marina Lessees Association. “In addition, we are encouraging them to make use of the water-saving devices that the county is providing.”

At Tony P’s Dockside Grill, conservation measures are already underway, said Anthony Palermo, the restaurant’s proprietor.

“We’ve already had several meetings with the management and the wait staff about the water shortage,” said Palermo. “We’re also looking at installing flush-free urinals in our restrooms to save water.”

The restaurant now only serves water to customers upon request.

Sherri Akers, the owner of the greening firm Green Door to Door, says that homeowners in the Marina who don’t have a lot of green space can still do their part to conserve water.

“Residents who belong to a homeowners association can encourage their boards not to overwater their hardscapes or landscapes,” said Akers, a Mar Vista homeowner who organized her city’s Green Garden Showcase in April. “Homeowners with even a small section of green space can convert to native grass and use inexpensive drought tolerant plants.”

Barrett has also met with the county Department of Beaches and Harbors to recommend certain alternatives so that the county maintenance crews who service its facilities may adapt to the new water conservation guidelines.

“We have suggested using weather-based sprinklers with rotating sprinkler nozzle controls in the county parks and waterless urinals in the restrooms,” she said.

Regarding landscaping and vegetation, the waterworks district advocates using native plants, but not until the drought dissipates.

“Right now is not the time to install native plants, because they can require a lot of water in the beginning,” Barrett explained. “Once things improve, we definitely recommend removing the high-use plants and installing low-usage, native plants.”

Akers, whose company provides consultation to residential and business clients, says that a fresh perspective on the existing flower beds, plants and grass in county facilities and on how they relate to water reduction is a good place to look at, now that a water shortage has been declared.

“One thing to look at would be the landscaping criteria, which sometimes do not take drought conditions into account,” the green consultant noted.

County officials believe the steps that they have taken during a time of water restriction have yielded benefits, but water use constraints will remain in place throughout the drought for some time.

“Although the measures the county has already taken have produced good results, the situation continues to worsen,” Knabe said. “Reduced supplies and increased costs are going to be a fact of life this summer at least.”

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