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Foothills face irrigation ban

Work on a distribution plant causes utility to ask customers to cut back on water use.

March 07, 2011|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com

Water utilities in La Crescenta and La Cañada will institute an informal 10-day ban on outdoor irrigation starting next week when a regional water treatment plant is temporarily shut down for maintenance and upgrades.

From March 18 to March 28, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will shut a water-treatment plant that serves roughly 1.7 million customers spanning from La Crescenta to Claremont, officials said, prompting the affected utilities to ask customers to cease outdoor irrigation and to refrain from hand-washing vehicles, filling swimming pools or hosing down driveways and sidewalks during the 10-day period.

Customers also have been asked to conserve water indoors and delay new landscaping, which typical requires continual watering.

The Foothill Municipal Water District — which serves the Crescenta Valley Water District and several water agencies in the La Cañada Flintridge area — regularly relies on imported water from Metropolitan.

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“To a large extent, agencies depend on Metropolitan,” said Dennis Erdman, general manager of the Crescenta Valley Water District. “When we lose that link, then we need to go to extraordinary measures.”

The F.E. Weymouth Plant in La Verne, the facility involved, treats water from Metropolitan’s Colorado River Aqueduct and the State Water Project before distributing it to foothill water utilities. First placed into service in 1941, the plant is one of Metropolitan’s oldest treatment facilities.

During the planned shutdown, crews will perform reliability upgrades and prepare the plant for “ozonation,” a kind of disinfection process. Crews will also use the opportunity to inspect structures that are inaccessible when the plant is in service, officials said.

While plant shutdowns are fairly common, they usually last seven days or less, said Metropolitan spokesman Bob Muir.

Cooperation among customers will help the agencies from drawing down their reserves to dangerous levels, officials said.

“If things get worse, if it gets really hot, then we could have problems,” said Foothill General Manager Nina Jazmadarian.

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