The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) reported this week that water usage by the city dropped to a level not seen since 1979, when the city had one million fewer people.
The reduction comes as a result of strict water rationing rules that went into effect in 2007, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Single family homes were the biggest conservators, using 30 percent less water in February compared to 1997. Over the last nine months a total of 30 billion gallons were conserved.
The stunning declines should give momentum to other conservation efforts, not only of water but electricity as well. They show that a concerted government effort to reduce consumption, including increased rates, can produce dramatic results. The DWP is in the process of trying to do the same with electricity, but recently clashed with the city council over raising electric bills.
Ironically, decreased demand may have contributed to an increase in water main breaks. Increased water pressure on the two days lawn water is allowed each week — Monday and Thursday — has led to breaks in old cast iron pipes, the DWP said.
Some residents have also complained about browned gardens, according to the Times.
But the city has no plans to ease back on rationing, given that water supplies are still not adequate, according to DWP officials.