By SHEL SEGAL
MONTEREY PARK – With a series of winter storms that have been pounding both Northern and Southern California this season, local water officials have been able to relax some water conservation measures in the city of Monterey Park.
Frank Heldman, a water utility manager for the Monterey Park Water Department, while conservation is probably here to stay and should just become a way of life, some measures are being toned down.
“The Department of Water Resources Control Board has actually decided to extend it until November 2017,” Heldman said.
“Now, one of the things that we’ve been able to do is self certify. We were able to lower our mandatory conservation rate from 20 percent down to 14 percent. We’ve been able to demonstrate we can meet our supply for the next three years. We were achieving our goal so we were able to relax it.”
With all this rain that is coming at a rapid rate, is California’s drought over?
“No, but it is depending on who you speak to, this is the fifth to seventh year of an extended drought,” Heldman said. “Some people say it would take three years like this to completely recover. It’s a great step in the right direction. But it’s one in a few needed steps.”
Last year, much rain fell up north while little came down to Southern California. But Heldman said that still can benefit the Southland, which has 75 percent of the state’s population, as Northern California as 75 percent of the water storage.
“It’s good to have it in the storage reservoirs up north, as well as the snowpack (in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains),” Heldman said. “That’s a key thing and a huge step in the right direction.”
Should residents change their water habits even more?
No, they should be “continuing to be doing what they have been doing in the past,” Heldman said.
“The continuing provisions and the governor’s mandate still prohibit water waste. Don’t wash down hard surfaces. Don’t water 48 hours after a rain. Do common sense things people have become accustomed to and have been acknowledging and adhering to. We just need to make water conservation a way of life. That’s the direction this is going.”
And with the Oroville Dam becoming damaged in Northern California, Heldman said while that doesn’t directly affect Southern California, the spills that are taking place to repair the dam eliminate water that could have ordinarily been used.
“That’s water that we could have stored and transferred through the systems that we have in place,” he said. “We don’t really need the water right now, but that’s storage we could have used at one point.”