Emergency restrictions on water use are no longer mandated, MWD says | News

The drought crisis is finally starting to become less severe.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will no longer mandate emergency restrictions on water use for nearly 7 million people after extreme winter storms helped alleviate shortage conditions that severely limited the availability of state water supplies, the Board of Directors decided on March 14.

The mandate had previously been in effect for the Inland Empire Utilities Agency, which provides water for Fontana and other cities in the area.

While the board’s action reflects improvements in the availability of State Water Project supplies, storage reserves have been drawn down and significant challenges remain to the region’s other source of imported water — the Colorado River. Metropolitan continues to call on residents and businesses across the region to use water as efficiently as possible to refill storage and prepare for potential steep cuts to supplies from the Colorado River.

“Southern California remains in a water supply deficit. The more efficiently we all use water today, the more we can keep in storage for a future dry year,” One Water Committee Chair Tracy Quinn said. “And as we face climate whiplash, dry conditions could return as soon as next year. Metropolitan is committed to helping residents save water through our expansive rebate and incentive programs.”

The mandated emergency restrictions that were removed this week had been in place since June of last year and required six of Metropolitan’s member agencies in portions of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties to limit outdoor watering to one day a week or live within volumetric limits. They were implemented after the state announced it would only be able to deliver a minimal amount of water in 2022 through the SWP, which brings water from Northern California to the south. The affected communities had limited access to other water supplies.

“We know these last nine months were a sacrifice for the dozens of communities under mandatory restrictions. On behalf of Metropolitan, I want to express our deep appreciation to all those who helped us stretch our available water supplies to get us through the acute emergency,” said Metropolitan board Chair Adán Ortega, Jr. “We needed a 35 percent reduction in use, and through your remarkable efforts, you achieved that. Thank you.”

From 2020 to 2022, California saw the three driest years in its history, resulting in historic low deliveries from the State Water Project. However, the winter storms have helped restore depleted reservoirs, boosted snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and allowed the state, which manages the SWP, to increase the amount of available supplies to Southern California for this year.

Still, the region remains under a water supply alert, calling for consumers and businesses to voluntarily continue to reduce their water use, officials said.

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