First published in the Nov. 5 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
After previewing South Pasadena’s potential future water usage, the City Council recently adopted a pair of plans that show that homes and businesses will continue to be able to tap into water service for at least the next five years.
The council unanimously approved both the Urban Water Management Plan and Water Shortage Contingency Plan for the municipality in October after a discussion concerning the state’s continuing drought conditions and the city’s current appetite for water. The bottom line is that residents and business owners need not worry about the immediate future.
“When considering both normal and drought conditions, including a consecutive, five-year drought,” said Ted Gerber, the deputy public works director who is in charge of water, “the city will be able to provide sufficient water supplies to meet its projected demands.”
Because South Pasadena supplies water to more than 3,000 people, the California State Water Code requires that the city develop an updated plan every five years to show how much water is regularly available, as well as to ascertain how to fulfill potential increased future usage.
Throughout the last 10 years, South Pasadena’s water demands have ranged from 3,317 acre-feet per year to 4,562 AFY, with an average of 3,950 AFY, which equates to about 1.3 billion gallons per year.
Data shows that the city, which relies on groundwater from the Main San Gabriel Basin, has conserved water since the previous UWMP and WSCP in 2015. New plumbing codes and greater awareness of the need to conserve aided in saving water, officials speculated.
However, despite those conservation efforts, water demands in the city are expected to increase in the next 25 years, mostly due to projected population growth. From 2010 to 2020, South Pasadena’s population increased by 5%, from 25,619 residents to 26,943, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
By 2025, water demand is expected to be 4,167 AFY, according to the city. By 2045, it’s projected to reach 4,299 AFY.
Water use forecasts are broken down by sector. For example, single-family residential use could account for 2,192 AFY in 2025. Other sectors include multifamily, commercial and institutional, which can include schools, churches, courts, hospitals and government facilities. The landscape sector is also included; that’s water used solely for landscape irrigation.
Distribution system losses are also taken into account, which includes water lost to inaccurate readings from faulty meters, firefighting or pipeline leaks.
“This is very difficult, to look into the future as the Legislature is requiring us to do, given all of the moving elements,” said Mayor Diana Mahmud. “We’ve got unknown gains in population, unknown against in water conservation and unknown changes in precipitation. This is a difficult thing to prepare.”
The UWMP and WSCP also include insight into South Pasadena’s climate. According to information in one of the plans, maximum daily temperatures reached an average of the high 80s from 1893 to 2015. Average rainfall was 19.7 inches.