Water shortage emergency is declared | News

State and local officials are extremely concerned about California’s ongoing drought conditions and said that strong measures must be taken in order to address the situation.

The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California recently declared a water shortage emergency, saying it does not have enough water to meet normal demands for the 6 million people living in State Water Project (SWP) dependent areas in parts of Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties.

As a result, MWD announced an unprecedented action on April 26, saying residents will face new restrictions limiting outdoor watering to one day a week, starting June 1.

MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said that if enough water isn’t conserved in the coming months, or if supply conditions worsen, all outdoor watering could be banned in these areas as early as September.

“The reality is, this drought has left us without the water supply we need to meet normal demands in these areas. To make sure we have enough water for their basic human health and safety needs, everyone in these communities must immediately and dramatically reduce their water use,” Hagekhalil said in a news release issued by MWD.

The MWD’s announcement affects the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA), which serves Fontana and several other cities.

IEUA General Manager Shivaji Deshmukh said in a statement that the agency is collaborating with its customer agencies and MWD to develop options for conservation measures to stretch SWP supplies as much as possible in addition to implementing its own.

“Although IEUA is identified as State Water Project dependent, the Agency has a diverse water supply portfolio, with

approximately 70 percent of IEUA’s water supplies stemming from local resources that we continue to contribute to and invest in to increase regional drought resiliency,” Deshmukh said.

MWD said that the six affected agencies, including IEUA, also could select an alternative path that sets volumetric limits on the amount of water used.

Andrea Carruthers, the communications officer for IEUA, said that “we are trying to make it absolutely clear that there are two options offered by MWD. IEUA and our customer agencies are choosing the pathway/framework that allows for an allocation from MWD, not the other option of a mandated one day/week watering schedule.”

This second pathway will allow the IEUA “to comply with monthly allocation limits based on remaining MWD storage, drought actions, and Human Health and Safety water provided by the Department of Water Resources (DWR),” Deshmukh said. “This pathway will result in real water savings for the region. These efforts align with MWD’s goal for all Southern California residents and businesses to save 30 percent and stretch our resources to prevent additional restrictions or cutbacks this year.”

Additional information regarding the conservation efforts will be provided in the upcoming weeks.

“Metropolitan has never before employed this type of restriction on outdoor water use. But we are facing unprecedented reductions in our Northern California supplies, and we have to respond with unprecedented measures. We’re adapting to climate change in real time,” Hagekhalil said.

The SWP on average supplies 30 percent of the water used in Southern California. However, three consecutive years of severe dry conditions have resulted in the lowest deliveries ever from this critical supply over the past three years, MWD said.

MWD declared a drought emergency for the SWP-dependent areas last November. Since then, conditions have only deteriorated. California just endured the driest January, February and March — typically when the state receives about half of its precipitation — in recorded history.

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