Water Conservation

Water conservation is the least expensive source of water that we have because a gallon saved is a gallon that does not need to be imported or produced. We all need to do our part to use water as efficiently as possible, so this vital resource remains readily available, now and in the future.

Water-saving practices cost little to nothing to implement and the water and financial savings can be substantial. SGVMWD offers numerous programs and resources to help you conserve!

Saving Water… It’s A Good Thing

After California’s historic, five-year drought that ended in 2015, the Governor issued an executive order prohibiting water waste and calling on all residents to “make conservation a California way of life.” The order resulted in a statewide plan enacting long-term conservation measures and water use targets for urban water systems.

SGVMWD supports water conservation by partnering with our member cities to provide funding and technical assistance for water-efficient technology and equipment, infrastructure programs, and public education. Since 2010, the District has been committed to funding and creating a variety of water conservation pilot projects throughout the service area. These projects are taking place in each of our member cities and involve elements of water-efficient technology and equipment, water-wise and California Native plants, and in-school curriculum.

September 2022 Water Stats

Baldwin Park Key Well

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2022 Earth Day Advertisement

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Overview of Drought

2022 Drought and Water Supply Update

With the San Gabriel Valley experiencing a very dry winter in 2021, coupled with declining state and local water supplies, it’s sounding a lot like it did in 2014-2015, when the Valley’s last major drought period began. That drought period lasted about 5 years and a historic low groundwater level of 169.4 feet above mean sea level was recorded at the Baldwin Park Key Well on November 18, 2019. Groundwater levels then rose as high as 212 feet above mean sea level in January 2020, before a fairly steady decline brought the level to about 185.5 feet above mean level in May 2022. Those are very significant readings since groundwater comprises about 80 percent of the water we use in the San Gabriel Valley.

Some researchers believe the last drought never ended and that the region is actually more than two decades into a “mega-drought,” a hydrological event that is on par with the worst dry spells of the past millennium. We are either in drought, recovering from drought or preparing for the next drought. And, droughts are getting more extreme due to climate change.

As pointed out in the District’s April 2022 Earth Day public education ad and the May 2022 “Water Supply Conditions” dashboard (both shown below) many of our key indicators – local rainfall, groundwater, reservoirs, snowfall and imported water deliveries – are all trending downward. The combined effect is a “perfect storm” for our declining water supplies.

Drought is common, drought is normal and drought will recur…“it takes a long time to get into a drought and a long time to get out of a drought.” Fortunately, conservation works and is the most efficient and least expensive means of preserving our water supply.

We know you have questions about the drought…and the Valley’s water supply…and water conservation…and more. We’ve listened to you and have answers for you in an easy-to-read “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) format. We provide questions and answers about a) drought in general, b) present drought conditions; c) the basics of our water supply in the San Gabriel Valley, and d) an introduction to the District’s water conservation programs. In addition, we provide links to a new source of drought and water supply information in the San Gabriel Valley, “The Waters That Connect Us” website, sponsored by the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster (www.thewaterthatconnectus.com).

Ensuring a safe and sustainable water supply in the San Gabriel Valley is the District’s mission and is critical to our health, environment and economy. We hope we can help you learn as much about our water resource as you do about other public policy issues such as education, transportation, health care, public safety, energy and foreign affairs. As residents will increasingly vote on important water policy matters at federal, state, county and municipal levels, we will try to keep you informed and engaged in the water dialogue.

If you have another question, please submit it to us by email (info@sgvmwd.com) or call 626-969-7911.

FAQs | Overview of Drought

Wikipedia defines drought as an extended period when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply whether surface or underground water. A drought can last for months or years, and occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. Intense drought can cause significant damage to the environment, public health and the local economy (e.g. local fire danger, mudslides, subsidence, etc.).

According to the California Department of Water Resources, when drought occurs is a function of drought impacts to water users. Drought is a condition of water shortage for a particular user in a particular location. Hydrologic conditions constituting a drought for water users in one location may not constitute a drought for water users in a different part of California or for users with a different water supply. Although persistent drought may be characterized as an emergency, it differs from typical emergency events. Drought occurs slowly, over a period of time. Drought impacts increase with the length of a drought, as carry-over supplies in reservoirs are depleted, stormwater runoff diminished and water levels in groundwater basins decline.
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The most significant statewide droughts occurred during 1928-34, 1976-77, 1987-92, and 2007-09. Southern California has experienced six major droughts since 1969 as shown on the graph below, including our present drought. A significant regional drought occurred in parts of Southern California in 1999-2002, and from 2014-2019. Looking back further, ring records from thousands of trees across western North America, analyzed to reconstruct soil moisture over the last 1,200 years, suggest that 2000-2018 was the second-driest period, eclipsed only by a mega-drought in the late 1500s.

The graphs below, created by the District and Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster, show our unpredictable weather conditions: 2/3 of the years show below average rainfall, meaning we tend to have a few very yet years followed by a larger number of very dry years. Drought is normal in southern California and the San Gabriel Valley. Drought will recur over time and is tending to be worse and more extreme due to climate change.

The graphs which follow are courtesy of Watermaster and may be found on their public education website: www.thewatersthatconnectus.com

2015-2017

Drought conditions emerged relatively slowly (“it takes a long time to get into a drought and a long time to get out of a drought”). California got less rain in 2013 than in any year since it became a state in 1850. Storage in key state reservoirs was lower than in 1977, one of the two previous driest water years on record, and the state’s snowpack was less than 25% of average. 2014 began with a drought emergency declaration from Governor Brown on January 17, the first such declaration since Governor Schwarzenegger declared a drought emergency in 2009. And, that was followed by an announcement from the California Department of Water Resources on January 31, 2014, that the State Water Project was suspending water deliveries. This meant no replenishment water for our groundwater supplies in the San Gabriel Valley.

As many of us in the San Gabriel Valley will remember, on January 15, 2015, amid our fourth consecutive year of drought, Governor Brown mandated water-use restrictions statewide, requiring cities and towns throughout the state to reduce their water usage as a whole by 25%.

2021-2022

The drought emergency (which is a State-issued policy declaration) beginning in 2015 came to an end in April 2017 following a wet winter in late 2016/early 2017. That drought, itself, came to an end in 2019. Then, in mid-late 2020, another very dry period began and has continued well into 2022. Subsequently, the state issued a new drought emergency in October 2021.

In late 2021, State Water Project deliveries, for the first time in history, were projected at zero percent of plan leading into 2022. Following significant precipitation in late 2021, the planned allocation was raised to 15% in January. However, when the first three months of 2022 turned out to be the driest January-March period in recorded history, the allocation was again reduced down to 5% in March. The graph below shows the decline and variability of State Water Project imported water allocations in recent years, complicating water planning statewide and locally.

In March 2022, Governor Newsom called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15 percent. As of May 2022, the statewide Drought Emergency remains in effect, but statewide mandatory water use restrictions have yet to be imposed.

Such declarations help focus the public’s attention on drought conditions. In 2014-15, and again today, people everywhere in California pay more attention to water conditions. Newspapers, TV and radio news, and social media “overflow” with news of drought and what to do about it. Conferences “spring” up in response and many government, business and community organizations have water on their agenda. Drought helps create conditions where legislative and political leaders take action on water-related legislation, infrastructure and funding.

Such announcements may also be accompanied by mandatory water use restrictions as occurred in 2015. Residents and businesses statewide and in the San Gabriel Valley responded then by reducing water use by more than 25%! We find consistently that people want to help out by saving water.

Unfortunately, complicating our current local water supply conditions is that as of May 2022, Californians, especially southern Californians, are NOT meeting the Governor’s call for voluntary water use reductions of 15%. Per data from the State Water Resources Control Board, southern California has actually increased its urban water use, only reducing water use by 6.4% since July 2021. This may contribute to further or mandatory water use restrictions.

Absolutely not! Sporadic rain and snowfall events, while helpful in boosting reservoir storage levels, often do not produce enough water to ease a drought. Sustained drought conditions and extreme heat lead to very hot and dry surface conditions and evaporation of surface water and very thirsty vegetation. Those conditions may decrease the amount of precipitation or storm run-off which makes its way to groundwater levels that can be anywhere from 50-450 feet below the surface. It takes time and sustained water availability for runoff to percolate or seep down those long distances to aquifers and groundwater storage areas to end a drought.

Because the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District and other water agencies throughout the Valley have employed sound water management practices for several decades, and because the Valley has reduced consumption in recent years through water conservation, the Valley is not in immediate jeopardy of major water shortages. Some people believe in the adage that “we will not run out of water, but we will run out of cheap water.” To a degree, we are protected by larger regional water storage facilities and a reduction in water demand resulting from effective water conservation efforts.

For cities served by the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, we have been preparing for water shortages like this, effectively providing you with “water insurance.” In other words, as residents in our service area use water from local wells, we’ve been actively helping to refill or replenish the groundwater that supplies those wells with imported water delivered via the State Water Project. Our water reserves are referred to as “cyclic storage.”

The current, worsening drought (2021-2022) means less water is available in the Valley and in the local mountains to help supply our local groundwater system, and the recent reduction (2021-2022) of water deliveries via the State Water Project means we have less water available to replenish those groundwater supplies. Thus, our water insurance is declining – reservoir levels are lower, groundwater levels are lower, and snowpacks throughout local and regional mountain ranges are lower.

Our local drought results from a “triple threat” lack of precipitation in the following geographic areas:

  • San Gabriel Mountains which feed local wells and Main San Gabriel Basin groundwater supplies
  • Sierra Nevada Mountains which feed the Owens River, the L.A. Aqueduct, Northern California, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the State Water Project/California Aqueduct
  • Western U.S. and the Rocky Mountains which feed the Colorado River.

FAQs | Present Drought Conditions: Spring 2022

The state issued a new drought emergency in October 2021 that continues into 2022. State Water Project deliveries, for the first time in history, were projected at zero percent of planned allocations leading into 2022. Following significant precipitation in late 2021, the planned allocation was raised to 15% in January. However, when the first three months of 2022 turned out to be the driest January-March three-month period in recorded history, the allocation was reduced down to 5% in March. Also in March 2022, Governor Newsom called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15 percent.

State officials, such as Karla Nemeth, Director of the California Department of Water Resources, stated in early 2021, “There is no doubt California is in a critically dry year. State agencies, water suppliers and Californians are more prepared than ever to adapt to dry conditions and meet the challenges ahead. California gets most of its annual precipitation from a handful of major and infrequent winter storms, which have become even more unpredictable as a result of climate change.”

The graphic below displays our drought and water supply conditions as of May 2022.

Another good example of how drought conditions contribute to deteriorating water supply conditions is how stormwater runoff has declined due to low precipitation levels, hot and dry weather, thirsty plants, and soil that at times is so dry it absorbs runoff before it percolates down to groundwater levels, and at other times is baked so hard that water just runs along the surface and never percolates down to groundwater levels.

The State Water Project is the State’s largest water project and brings water from the State’s wet northern region to 25 million residents and 750,000 acres of farmland via the California Aqueduct. Late each year, the State prepares preliminary plans for the amount of water (“Allocations”) that will be made available the following year to State Water Contractors and other water agencies via the State Water Project. Those plans are sometimes modified in the ensuing months based on rain, snow and existing hydrological conditions.

In just the past six months, we’ve seen the California Department of Water Resources, which operates the State Water Project, project imported water allocations for 2022 to be zero as 2021 drew to a close. But, then, following very wet storms in late December, the State increased the planned allocation for 2022 to 15% in January. Unfortunately, the driest January-March period ensued and the State again reduced the planned allocation to 5%. The net result of all of this variability is less water from northern California will be provided to state water contractors such as the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (serving the cities of Alhambra, Azusa, Monterey Park or Sierra Madre) or the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which also serves parts of the San Gabriel Valley.

SGVMWD’s full allocation of imported water is 28,800 acre-feet, thus, only 1,440 AF are available in 2022. The elimination of this imported water, used largely to replenish underground water supplies, will put increased demand and stress on our local wells, reservoirs and other water supplies. Thus, the amount of water in local wells will decline faster than when water deliveries are taking place.

It’s impossible to predict with specificity other than to know historically dry periods tend to last for several years or more. Climate change and extreme weather conditions, such as intense storms and intense heat, add to the uncertainty facing water managers.

That remains to be seen. As of May 2022, the call for a 15% water use reduction is voluntary, however, many cities are beginning to limit watering to fewer days per week and are enforcing over-watering penalties. Individual cities or counties may impose mandatory water use restrictions or price increases at any time based on their particular needs. It’s important for residents and businesses to closely follow both local and state water decisions that may impact.

No one can say for sure what will happen to water pricing, but, long-term, water prices are likely to rise, as in most supply and demand scenarios. Scarcer supplies put upward pressure on the cost of water to businesses, residents and agriculture. We are already witnessing that within the San Gabriel Valley. Remember, water prices to residential and business customers are usually set by municipal water utilities or local water companies. The San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District is a wholesale water agency and does not deal directly with end users.

As of May 2022, many municipalities are implementing more restrictive water use procedures, such as limiting watering to one day per week. In the District’s member cities of Alhambra, Azusa, Monterey Park and Sierra Madre, please visit your City’s water department or utility website for the latest water use developments.

The single, most important activities we can all do is save water and voluntarily reduce usage. Again, no one can say for sure what will happen, but long-term, if the drought persists and worsens, it is likely many local jurisdictions will impose further water use restrictions. Rationing is a more extreme measure and, if it happens, will be more on a case by case basis. It is possible the State would take action, as well.

Local municipalities and unincorporated areas may act independent of the State, on a jurisdiction by jurisdiction basis, to implement mandatory water conservation, water use restrictions, rationing, price increases, tiered pricing structures and other measures. Many communities will grapple with declining water levels in local wells. Some cities may impose tighter water conservation regulations and higher prices than others. Residents should follow local water developments at the city, county, regional and state levels. The San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District has no control over the policies, pricing and actions of these local government entities.

Each city is different, but most have the ability to provide customer service and conservation information and/or audits. We suggest you either call the water utility in your city or visit their websites:

Water conservation works. During the most recent drought, cities in the San Gabriel Valley reduced water use by more than 25 percent, though demand has increased since that time and early 2022 conservation levels are lower than the desired, voluntary 15% reduction called for by the Governor. Water savings may be achieved through water-efficient technology, equipment and vegetation, as well as greater public education efforts. Whatever your motivation to save water: to help your family, to help your community, to help the environment, to save money…now is the time to get informed about ways to conserve and other relatively untapped water supply solutions such as recycled water, storm water capture and desalination.

The District has a very robust outreach program promoting water conservation via rebates, conservation grants, water-saving tips, and the H2Owl/Speakers Bureau programs.

You may attend your city council and board of supervisors meetings and pay attention to state and local government action related to water. Because most water is provided to you via local water districts, water utilities or water companies, you should monitor their actions closely for information. Another suggestion is to prepare for disasters which could further stress our fragile water supplies.

Any crisis or emergency has the positive benefit of increasing awareness, prompting action and inspiring creativity and innovation. New legislation and technology related to water supply and water quality receives increased attention, funding and support during drought periods. Presently, California is considering a variety of water-related initiatives such as the Delta Conveyance Plan which would make imported water deliveries more reliable.

FAQs | Water Supply Basics in the San Gabriel Valley

First, let’s review the basics about the San Gabriel Valley’s water supply. Our water supply system includes a variety of sources of water including groundwater replenishment, imported water, reservoirs and cyclic storage, recycled water, storm water capture, and water transfers. Thus, despite developments such as record-breaking dry weather, worsening drought conditions, reduction of imported water deliveries via the State Water Project, extreme weather conditions resulting from climate change, and implementation of voluntary water use restrictions, the San Gabriel Valley has water in reserve to meet local needs for the near future, even if the drought continues.

However, it is a reality that local water supplies are lower than we would like. Another reality is individual cities, counties, the state and water companies may act to curtail frequency of watering, impose mandatory water-use restrictions and raise water rates/pricing to curtail water use. These are actions that the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District has no control over but that we encourage residents and businesses to follow in the towns in which their homes and businesses are located.

The San Gabriel Valley is a distinct watershed shaped by local mountains, rivers, streams and other geological formations. A major, natural source of water for the Valley is the San Gabriel River and streams, ponds, lakes, dams and reservoirs connected to it that are located either in the San Gabriel Mountains or the Valley, itself. Beneath the Valley is the Main San Gabriel Basin, the focal point of our Valley’s water supply system. The image below shows the series of dams and reservoirs within the San Gabriel Mountains that serve the Basin, as well as the San Gabriel Canyon Spreading Grounds.

The Basin is about 100 yards below the ground, right underneath your feet, and it is underlies the Valley. Just imagine the length of a soccer or football field, but downward, deep underground. That’s where the vast majority of your water comes from. It is held in a natural holding area formed of bedrock called a water basin. This underground basin holds rainfall, snowmelt and conserved water. The illustration below simulates how a typical groundwater basin functions.

By far the largest component of local water supplies is groundwater pumping, providing about 80% of the water we use. 20% of the water we use is imported water from northern California by the State Water Project and from the Colorado River.

For more information on the Valley’s water supply, please refer to Watermaster’s educational website, “The Waters That Connect Us”.

Here in Southern California and the San Gabriel Valley we live in a dry, desert region. We use more water than Mother Nature provides. Supplemental sources of water (other than pumping of local aquifers or underground wells), include surface reservoir production, recycled water, storm water capture and supplies imported through wheeling arrangements or transported via aqueduct from the State Water Project and the Colorado River. When needed, the Basin holds waters we purchase from “imported” sources, such as the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in Northern California and the Colorado River. Importing water is expensive and requires energy to pump it hundreds of miles. However, sometimes these imported waters are needed when rain, snowmelt and conservation aren’t enough to sustain healthy water levels in our basin. Imported water is used to fill spreading grounds which allows water to percolate or seep down to replenish groundwater.

The San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, formed in 1959, was created to provide a reliable supply of supplemental water for its member agencies, namely the cities of Alhambra, Azusa, Monterey Park and Sierra Madre. The District is one of 29 State Water Contractors which import water from the State Water Project, operated by the California Department of Water Resources (the District utilizes its Devil Canyon-Azusa Pipeline for this purpose).

Given the size and topography of the San Gabriel Valley, it’s not surprising that groundwater levels throughout the Valley vary from location to location – different locations in the Valley have more water or more accessible water than others. And, some wells in the San Gabriel Valley are polluted or contaminated. Water rights and pumping rights are complicated – for example, Monterey Park relies on water that is pumped from wells located in Rosemead. Thus, in 1973 the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster (www.watermaster.org) was created to manage and protect groundwater resources within the Main San Gabriel Groundwater Basin. The San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District works very closely with Watermaster and other water agencies located in the San Gabriel Valley.

A widely accepted measure of our local groundwater supplies is the Baldwin Park Key Well. As the diagram below shows (this graph is updated on an ongoing, weekly basis), groundwater levels have longer periods of decline than of ascent given that most of our years are relatively dry, with the historic low level of 169.4 recorded in November 2019. The graph also displays the critical importance of cyclical storage: the black line indicating groundwater levels without storage and the higher, blue line indicating groundwater levels with cyclic storage factored in. Note that cyclic storage levels have increased since the last drought due to smart water management practices throughout the Main San Gabriel Basin.

The City of Azusa draws its water primarily from Main San Gabriel Basin wells located in Azusa adjacent to spreading grounds which are located at the terminus of the pipeline operated by the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District. The City supplements this source of water with water from the San Gabriel River. Whenever the City’s groundwater production exceeds its water rights, untreated imported water is delivered to the San Gabriel Basin via the pipeline operated by the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District to replace that amount of water which was produced in excess of the City’s water rights. Water is treated, pumped to and stored in reservoirs located in the City, and then transported via the City’s water distribution system to your tap.

Sierra Madre’s groundwater historically came primarily from wells in the Raymond Basin and from surface water that is transported via tunnels reaching into the San Gabriel Mountains. In the recent past, Sierra Madre was 100 percent reliant on its Metropolitan Water District connection due to low groundwater levels in its local wells. In 2019 the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District and the City of Sierra Madre worked together to identify a long-term solution to the challenges facing the City and the District. That led to a water wheeling agreement between Sierra Madre and Arcadia that also called for construction of a joint well to be located within the City of Arcadia. The water would then be transmitted through Arcadia’s existing pipelines to Sierra Madre’s water distribution system. In January 2020, the District approved nearly $1.9 million in grant funding to begin construction of the joint well.

Monterey Park’s water comes primarily from San Gabriel Basin wells located in neighboring Rosemead. Whenever the City’s groundwater production exceeds its water rights, untreated imported water is delivered to the San Gabriel Basin via the pipeline operated by the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District to replace that amount of water which was produced in excess of the City’s water rights. Water is treated, pumped to and stored in reservoirs located in the City, and then transported via the City’s water distribution system to your tap.

The City of Alhambra’s water supply is primarily groundwater pumped from a portion of the Main San Gabriel Basin which is referred to as the “The Alhambra Pumping Hole.” The City supplements this source of water with a direct connection to the Metropolitan Water District’s pipeline. Whenever the City’s groundwater production exceeds its water rights, untreated imported water is delivered to the San Gabriel Basin via the pipeline operated by the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District to replace that amount of water which was produced in excess of the City’s water rights. Water is treated, pumped to and stored in reservoirs located in the City, and then transported via the City’s water distribution system to your tap.

FAQs | Water Conservation

The District supports water conservation for both environmental and economic reasons. Water conservation is the easiest, most efficient and least expensive means of dealing with the drought. Every drop of water saved is a drop of water that does not need to be paid for. Every drop of water we save is water that remains in our groundwater basin. Every drop of water we save is water we don’t need to import, recycle or treat.

Water Conservation means different things to different people. For some, it means equipment or processes, such as water timers and water-efficient appliances. For others, it means human behavior, such as the length of our showers, whether we install water efficient appliances, if we leave the faucet running while we brush our teeth, or if we use a hose, rather than a broom, to clean our driveways.

The Water District supports water conservation in many ways. The Conservation section of our website provides much more information on the District’s water conservation initiatives. A principle advanced by the District’s Board more than a decade ago was to develop a strong focus on educating, informing and motivating young people about water conservation. The Board believed then and now that if young people acquire water conservation and sustainability ethics, they will hold them for a lifetime and be a positive influence on their parents, families and communities.

Other informative and educational conservation-oriented websites are:

For more than a decade the District has worked closely with school districts to provide hands-on presentations and materials to encourage development of sustainable water and environmental attitudes and behavior. Several of the most helpful conservation resources are highlighted below.

Our “Home Water Survey” enables students to work with family members and friends at home to identify water saving opportunities. For more than a decade, District representatives have been guest speakers at school assemblies featuring the Survey and other water conservation information. Nearly every student graduating from high schools in our service area has participating in our Survey and school assembly program, as we’ve worked to develop a generation of young people with a strong water conservation ethic

The “Our Precious Water Resource” videos are available on-demand on our website for use in school or at home.

Our “Water Awareness Growth Chart” is available on our website for download or you may contact the district to have one mailed to your home or school (626-969-7911; info@sgvmwd.com).

Through its H2Owl Outreach Program and our Speakers Bureau Program, District representatives are available to speak to schools and community and business organizations on water-related topics. We also provide tours of District facilities on a planned and requested basis. For further information or to request assistance, please contact the District (626-969-7911; info@sgvmwd.com)

Our strategy has been two-fold. First, beginning in 2009, we implemented pilot projects at highly visible, high water-consumption locations (schools, city facilities, large employers) and created partnerships with member cities and community organizations to make the pilot projects as well-known as possible. The Water District has provided approximately $12 million in grants to fund more than 25 water conservation pilot projects in our four member cities. Our goal has been to both save water and to provide information to help residents, schools, businesses and other organizations adopt water saving technology, materials and procedures for the long-term.

As “demonstration” projects, our pilot projects take place in highly visible community locations that are easy to visit and learn from. Our grants funded equipment, technology, landscaping and vegetation and promote indoor and outdoor water savings. An added objective of each grant is to foster community partnerships that involve people working together. Projects at schools and youth or community facilities typically involve youth, teachers, parents, local businesses, local non-profits, churches and school clubs.

The District’s second strategy was to incentivize non-profit schools and community/business organizations to create their own creative approaches to water conservation. Historically, the District’s O.W.L. Community Grant Program (Opportunities for Water Leadership) provides grants ranging from a few hundred dollars to $2,000. Beginning in 2022, there are no longer funding limits for grants. Applicants may apply for as much funding as they can justify for their projects. Eligible recipients include schools, clubs and community and business organizations. Funds are available on a rolling basis and the District has funded several dozen projects since the Program’s inception. Apply for a grant today!

The District offers an extensive rebate program whereby stakeholders who purchase water saving appliances and equipment save water and save money. Items in the District’s rebate program include: rain barrels and cisterns, water-efficient washing machines, high-efficiency toilets, “smart” and weather-based irrigation controllers, soil moisture sensors, rotating sprinkler nozzles and commercial waterless urinals. Apply for a rebate today!

Our website provides water-saving tips in multiple languages for residents, businesses and multi-family dwellings such as apartment buildings. In addition, the District has created a variety of educational videos.

 

More than 50% of water use occurs outdoors and that provides an abundance of opportunities for saving water. Water-wise plants and landscaping are among the smartest and most effective means of reducing outdoor water use. Over many decades, as people have relocated to southern California and the San Gabriel Valley from other parts of the country, they have tended to landscape like they did back home. The reality is we live in an arid desert and we use more water than Mother Nature provides. Fortunately, for those with a certain aesthetic and those who love to garden, there are plants that are “native” to southern California and the San Gabriel Valley. They will survive in our warm, dry climate, they are attractive, they use less water and they are readily available.

Different terms to describe such vegetation include “California Native Plants”, water-efficient plants and drought-tolerant plants. Water-efficient landscaping may also include rock gardens, boulders, benches, synthetic turf and other decorative elements that use no water at all. The “Gardening Guide” section of this website provides localized planting information for each of our member cities.

Rebates

Save Water & Money!

You can get money back from SGVMWD just for buying and installing water-efficient appliances and fixtures! Our rebate program covers a variety of products and is available to residents of Alhambra, Monterey Park, and Sierra Madre.

For residents served by Azusa Light & Water, please visit the Azusa website for rebate information. 

We partner with and receive support for our program from EPA Water Sense and California Climate Investments.

The SGVMWD rebate program is administered by Thinking Green Consultants. For information or questions about rebates, please contact the company at (855) 512-1221.

Indoor Rebates

$85

WATER-EFFICIENT WASHING MACHINE

New machines save you money by using less water, detergent and electricity. These models are gentler on clothes and more water is extracted during the spin cycle, so less drying time is needed.

Click to Apply

$40

PREMIUM HIGH-EFFICIENCY TOILET

The bathroom is a great place to start saving water, since the majority of indoor use (30%) goes toward flushing the toilet. Upgrading to a high-efficiency toilet results in an annual water savings of 20,000 gallons for a family of four!

Click to Apply

$150

COMMERCIAL WATERLESS URINAL REBATE

Waterless urinals have numerous benefits beyond saving up to 45,000 gallons of water per year for each unit. They also protect our waterways and oceans because they don’t produce wastewater discharge, and they reduce maintenance costs because they are easier to clean, making them worth the investment.

Click to Apply

Outdoor Rebates

$35

PER RAIN BARREL OR UP TO $350 PER CISTERN

This passive conservation tool helps you conserve drinking water and reduce stormwater runoff. A half-inch of rain from your home roof is enough to fill a 55-gallon barrel! The collected water can be used for all your outdoor water needs. 

Click to Apply

$80

WEATHER-BASED IRRIGATION CONTROLLER

Reduce over-watering by about 40 gallons per day by installing a controller that automatically adjusts irrigation based on weather and soil moisture conditions. Smart controllers are the key to healthy plants and compliance with drought-related water use restrictions. 

Click to Apply

$80

SOIL MOISTURE SENSOR SYSTEM

Keep your lawn and plants hydrated and healthy and save water by monitoring soil moisture conditions. These easy-to-use probes pay for themselves very quickly – and the rebate helps!

Click to Apply

$2

PER ROTATING SPRINKLER NOZZLE REBATE

Up to 70% of household water consumption is used outside. But your landscape actually needs much less water than you think. By switching to rotating sprinkler nozzles, you can reduce total water usage by as much as 20%.

Click to Apply

$100

PER FLOW MONITOR DEVICE REBATE

Flow monitoring devices are a new technology that give customers information about their water use, potential leaks, and incidences of high water use.

Click to Apply

SGVMWD Rebates Program Application

Our Conservation Partners

Irrigation-Efficient Programs

Irrigation Controller Retrofit Program

San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District offers an outdoor irrigation and water saving program that provides qualified residents with a FREE irrigation inspection, irrigation controller and spray nozzles. The District has contracted with EcoTech Services to manage the program. If eligible, EcoTech Services will replace your old irrigation timer with a new weather-based irrigation controller installed by a landscape professional. The approximate value per landscape is $1,000.

For more information call (866) 308-8391.
*Commercial and HOA properties may be eligible if funding is available. Please contact EcoTech Services at (866) 308-8391 for further information.

Program Features:

  • Irrigation system inspection
  • Replacement of existing irrigation controller
  • Controller programming and training customized for your home
  • Sprinkler nozzle retrofit/replacement on existing spray heads

Eligibility:

  • Residential water customers in Alhambra, Monterey Park, Azusa and Sierra Madre
  • Must have a working irrigation system with a controller

Value:

  • Up to $1,000 in equipment and service (one controller per customer)
  • Save water and save money!

How to Apply:

  • First Come First Serve: Time and funding are limited
  • Contact the District’s partner, EcoTech Services, at 866-308-8391 or ecotechservices.net

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What’s Included:

  • Landscape Survey
  • Free Home Leak Detection Test
  • Irrigation System Repairs
  • Installation of Weather-based Irrigation Controller
  • Old Controller Recycling

O.W.L. Community Grant Program

(Opportunities for Water Leadership)

The O.W.L. Community Grant Program began in 2017. We invite schools and non-profit organizations in our member cities of Alhambra, Azusa, Monterey Park and Sierra Madre to submit a proposal to create a “water-wise” project in your community. We’ll provide the funding if you identify partners, organize activities, manage the project’s completion and share its results locally. While grants ranged from $200-2,000 since the program’s inception in 2017, as of April 2022, there are no longer limits on the amount applicants may seek.

Objectives

  • To involve schools, and non-profit community and business groups in “water-wise” solutions
  • To offer funding that supplements labor and other contributions by partnering groups

Eligibility

  • Schools – teachers, departments, student clubs, student groups, athletic teams, PTAs
  • Non-Profit Community Organizations – environmental, churches, scouting, service organizations, youth
  • Eligible cities: Alhambra, Azusa, Monterey Park and Sierra Madre

Funding

  • Grant proposals may be for any amount
  • One grant per recipient per fiscal year
  • Funding is limited, apply today!

Sierra Madre Elementary School Earth Day Native Garden Festival

Community Projects

Check out the innovative community improvements below that have been made with OWL grants!

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Examples of Eligible Projects

  • Water-wise landscaping
  • Turf removal
  • Water-wise irrigation
  • Storm water capture
  • Grey water; recycled water
  • Erosion control
  • Waterway cleanup (lakes, streams, ponds)
  • Forest restoration
  • Water quality
  • Science projects/Water conservation curriculum development
  • Poster/Essay contests
  • Youth Network/Club Development • Awards/Incentives

O.W.L. Grant Application

The application process for OWL grants is easy! Just click on the button below for an electronic application and answer a few questions about your organization and proposed project. The District may require an interview and/or a presentation.

If you have questions about the program, please contact Evelyn Reyes at 626-969-7911 or ereyes@sgvmwd.com.

Download the OWL Program Information
Download the OWL Program Application

Water Saving Tips

The District has compiled numerous conservation tips and resources and offers them here for easy reference and printing. 

We offer PDFs of the documents in English, Spanish and Chinese. Please feel free to download them and share the information with family and friends. We will continue to post about water-saving pilot and demonstration programs and share details with our local newspapers and member cities.

If you have ideas about how to save water that you’d like to share with others, please either email your comments to: info@sgvmwd.com or call us at 626-969-7911.

Save water in your home

Conservation doesn’t have to be hard! Adopting simple changes can make a big difference! In southern California, the average person uses about 125 gallons of water per day.

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Save water in your yard

Did you know 50-75% of water usage occurs outside the home, especially during hot summer and fall months?

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Save water at work

No matter your business, you can save as much as 50 gallons of water a day by switching to rebate-eligible appliances and fixtures at the office. And by enlisting your staff to employ water-saving practices, that can add up to thousands of gallons (and dollars) per year!

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Saving water in apartment buildings

Water conservation is easy and important for residents, property managers and owners of old and new apartment buildings. Indoors, residents can save water by adopting water-wise behavior, fixing leaks and notifying their property manager/owner of leaks and water waste. Property managers/owners have many opportunities to install water-wise appliances in dwelling units and common areas such as laundry rooms and pools/spas, to plant water-wise vegetation, and to install irrigation controllers and sub-meters. Saving water saves money, too!

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Advanced water-saving tips

There’s a lot you can do to save water, from installing high-efficiency appliances to repairing even the smallest leaks indoors and out. Find out how in our “Water, Well Worth Conserving” booklet.

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Native Plant Gardening Tips

More than 50% of most homeowners’ water bills are for outdoor water use. Water-wise gardening practices can cut your water use by half and still keep your landscaping green and healthy.

Water-wise gardening involves plant selection, weed abatement, hardscapes, irrigation installation, watering schedules and insect control. It can get complicated, so having a good plan is important. Many people love to garden, themselves, while others seek out professional help from landscapers.

While there are many websites that may assist you, two of our favorites are of the Theodore Payne Foundation and the California Native Plant Society. Each of these sites feature California Native Plants which use 1/7th the water of traditional vegetation.

Custom Plant Guides for Our Member Cities

The Theodore Payne Society With the assistance of the California Native Plant Society’s website and its Garden Planner tool , the District has developed custom plant selection guides for each of our member cities. You, too, may utilize the Garden Planner tool by visiting the website. Featured below are downloadable/printable tips on how to plant a Native Plant garden in Alhambra, Azusa, Monterey Park and Sierra Madre. In addition to plant recommendations, we’ve identified nurseries and gardening stores that specialize in native plants.

Gardening Tips to Help You Get Started

  • Observe the pattern of runoff in your yard when it rains. You can create berms, swales and other contours to slow the flow and catch the water so it can be used by your plants.
  • Use drip systems, soaker hoses and other efficient irrigation methods that apply water close to the plant roots. Keep in mind that plants adapted to dry summers need less water a few years after planting.
  • Add compost or mulch to the soil. Compost helps the soil hold water and adds nutrients needed for plant growth. Mulch prevents the soil from overheating and drying out, reduces weeds and slows erosion. Use 2 to 4 inches underneath plants and shrubs.
  • Gather rainwater in buckets and save it for later use in your garden.
  • Avoid over pruning or forcing plants to grow into unnatural shapes.
  • Layer plants to make shade and use species that are native to the area.
  • Observe the natural shade and sun of your yard and plan your garden accordingly.

View or Download your City’s guide here:

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Azusa Planting Guide

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Sierra Madre Planting Guide

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Monterey Park Planting Guide

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Alhambra Planting Guide

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Azusa Median Project

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Sierra Madre Water Main Construction

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Monterey Park PFAS/PFOA Water Treatment Facility

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Alhambra Water Treatment Facility

Water Supply, Water Quality and Water Conservation Pilot Projects

The Water District has provided approximately $20 million of zero-interest loans and grants to support water supply, water conservation and water quality projects in member cities. Our objectives have included providing information to help people, schools, and community and business organizations adopt water-saving technology, materials and procedures. Our strategy has been to implement pilot projects at highly visible, high water-consumption locations.

Azusa Irrigation Landscape Technology
Median Water and Tree Saving Project (2016)
Mountain View Elementary School (2014-2016)
Paramount Elementary School (2014-2016)
Azusa Pacific University (2010-2011)
San Gabriel Canyon Gateway Center (2009-2010)
Department of Light and Water (2009-2010)
Memorial Park, North Recreation Center (2009-2010)
Azusa Chamber of Commerce (2009-2010)
Sierra Madre Irrigation Landscape Technology
Water Main Construction (2021-2022)
Joint Well Project (2020)
Automated Meter Reading (2014-2017)
City Hall (2014-2015)
Sierra Madre School (2011-2012)
MWD Emergency Connection (2007-2011)
Sierra Vista Park (2009-2010)
Sturtevant Street Flood Control Right of Way (2009-2010)
Miramonte Reservoir/Mt. Wilson Trailhead (2009-2010)
Monterey Park Irrigation Landscape Technology
PFAS/PFOA Water Treatment Facility (2021-2022)
Demonstration Gardens (2015-2016)
Macy Intermediate School (2014-2015)
Brightwood Elementary School (2014-2015)
California Native Median Project (2011-2012)
Automated Meter Reader (AMR) (2009-2010)
City Hall Planters and Smart Controller (2009-2010)
Alhambra Irrigation Landscape Technology
Automated Meter Reading (2014-2017)
City Hall (2015-2016)
Fire Station (2014-2015)
West San Gabriel Valley YMCA (2013-2014)
The Alhambra Urban Community (2011-2012)
Gateway Plaza (2009-2010)
Alhambra Water Treatment Facility (2008)