For the first time, officials in southern California have declared a water shortage emergency. Unprecedented water restrictions have been ordered for six million people in parts of Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties.
The unprecedented step has ordered that outdoor water usage be restricted to one day a week. The new restrictions will come into effect from June 1.
The decision was made by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and will apply to areas that depend on water from the State Water Project, which has been completely ravaged by drought.
The district’s general manager Adel Hagekhalil said that the area is witnessing conditions unlike anything seen before, and therefore there need to be serious reductions in demand.
The MWD board has never taken a step like this before. The resolution adopted by the water wholesaler will bring with it the first widespread water restriction to be imposed in Southern California during the current and ongoing extreme drought.
California’s drought has entered its third year. It has become the driest on record. The drought has been further intensified by hotter temperatures due to climate change.
With major reservoirs in the state at low levels, the water wholesaler said that there is not enough water in parts of Southern California and that these areas are now relying on extremely limited supplies from Northern California.
The measure was approved unanimously by the MWD board and is labeled as reducing “non-essential water use” in certain areas. This means outdoor watering can only occur one day a week, and cities and smaller water suppliers that get their water from MWD need to restrict this or find other ways to cut usage to a new monthly allocation limit.
In July 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom called for Californians to voluntarily reduce water usage by 15 percent, but the state still remains far from that goal. In March 2022, Newsom ordered urban water suppliers to implement more aggressive measures to conserve water, and told the state water board to consider a ban on watering “nonfunctional” grass.