WATER: South Bay’s supplier will visit the councils to urge them to adopt new policies. By Kristin S. Agostoni STAFF WRITER For weeks now, television and radio spots have pleaded with Southern Californians to get stingy with water: Take shorter showers, turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, put a timer on lawn sprinklers. “We view our main audience as local cities,” he said. “They probably haven’t looked at their ordinances since ’89 to ’92, the last drought.” The program “gets us in there,” he said. “It raises awareness.” Earlier this week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors heeded the call for conservation and agreed to craft an ordinance requiring drought-tolerant and native landscaping in all new developments in unincorporated areas. Cities and water agencies across Southern California are wringing their hands over record-low rainfall levels and a federal court decision that limits the amount of water Southern California can receive from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in an attempt to prevent the extinction of the delta smelt. Already, officials with Metropolitan Water District, which imports water from the delta and the Colorado River, have said they’ll cut water to Southern California farmers by 30 percent next year and are drafting plans that could force rationing for the first time in more than a decade. West Basin is one of the Metropolitan Water District’s 26 member agencies and supplies water to 17 local cities and unincorporated county areas. Other South Bay cities, such as Torrance, buy water directly from the MWD. West Basin so far has called for voluntary rationing as officials wait to see whether the MWD adopts a plan next year that would limit its share of water, Paludi said. “If we have another (dry) winter like we had last year, it’s quite possible Met will continue to depend on reserves and they’ll probably have to buy water from farther south of the delta,” Paludi said. And the costs could trickle down to customers. MWD officials earlier this month indicated wholesale rates could rise as much as 10 percent within the next two years, although Paludi said it’s too soon to say whether West Basin’s rates would rise that much. At least for the short term, officials are focused on getting out the word and encouraging voluntary rationing. Although the board has yet to formally adopt the plan, West Basin Assistant General Manager Paul Shoenberger made a stop Tuesday night at the Redondo Beach City Council chambers, where he answered questions and talked about conservation strategies. The Redondo Beach SEA Lab will serve as home to the district’s desalination demonstration project, which some day could lead to a new source of potable water. Board members will likely split up within the next couple months and make similar visits within their elected districts. “We’re hoping for continued vigilance on the part of the public,” said board President Don Dear. “It takes a lot to get the public’s attention, but I think this is a good time to reinforce the message to our cities to save water.” In some cases, cities might learn from neighbors. Redondo Beach Councilman Chris Cagle, who serves on a water policy task force for the Southern California Association of Governments, said he believes the beach city has already made strides by using recycled water for irrigating landscaping and installing low-flow toilets in restrooms, among other initiatives. But Cagle said he was surprised to learn that nearby Inglewood had its street sweepers outfitted to take in water that comes from the Hyperion wastewater treatment plant and is recycled at West Basin’s El Segundo treatment facility. “That’s one idea,” Cagle said. “There’s probably a lot of things like that the city could do.” [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.And as the region’s water supply remains vulnerable, that drumbeat is only expected to grow louder this fall. Within the next few months, the agency that supplies water to cities across the South Bay plans to take the message to city hall, where officials would be briefed on conservation strategies and urged to adopt policies for using recycled water where possible. West Basin Municipal Water District next week will ask its board members to adopt the outreach program – “It’s Time to Get Serious” – and visit each of the cities it serves. The goal is to get city councils to create new programs and update their ordinances – laws that might not have been given much attention since the region’s last drought. Doing so could push more businesses and public agencies to use recycled water for irrigation, or bring more developers to plant drought-resistant landscaping, said Fernando Paludi, the district’s manager of planning and water resources.