Mandatory water restrictions are lifted for nearly 7 million people in Southern California following winter storms that swelled reservoirs and eased a severe shortage that emerged during the driest three-year period on record registered in the state.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California board of directors has decided to end the emergency conservation mandate for agencies in parts of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties that rely on State Water supplies. Project. Officials said the change reflected improvements in available supplies, but they urged residents and businesses to continue to conserve to help fill what is still a water deficit and prepare for expected reductions in water supplies. depleted reservoirs of the Colorado River.
“This year’s very wet weather has improved our water supply conditions enough that we no longer need to impose the most severe of the restrictions we had imposed on nearly 7 million people,” Brad said. Coffey, head of water resources at Metropolitan. “But because we need to refill our storage that has been depleted by this drought, and because of the long-standing drought on the Colorado River, we’re still asking consumers to conserve. Conservation allows us to refill storage and we prepare for another dry year.”
The MWD board’s decision on Tuesday ends emergency drought measures that were imposed in June 2022, which required six of the district’s member agencies to limit outdoor watering to one day a week or reduce overall usage to stay within certain limits.
The measures were intended to address last year’s critical shortage on the State Water Project, the system of aqueducts and reservoirs that bring water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to Southern California.
The series of atmospheric river storms has significantly eased the water supply deficit since January. Agencies that rely on State Water Project supplies were only able to get 5% of their full allocations last year, but with storms and rising reservoir levels, state officials told agencies that they could receive 35% of the requested water. supplies, and this figure is expected to increase further with the latest storms.
San Luis Reservoir, one of the large reservoirs that feeds the state water project, has reached 88% of its total capacity, and water is being routed south to raise Castaic Lake levels and other reservoirs.
The MWD provides water that its member agencies supply to 19 million people in six counties.
In December, district officials said that if conditions did not improve, they planned to implement a regional allocation to address shortages, which would have meant a shift to water rationing and mandatory restrictions in all of southern California.
Now the tide has “turned around enough” that the district won’t need to implement the water supply allocation starting this summer, Coffey said. “We don’t need to take the next step, although we do need consumers to continue to use water efficiently.”
On average, about a quarter of Southern California’s water supply comes from the Colorado River, where reservoir levels have fallen to record lows due to chronic overuse and 23 years of drought exacerbated by rising temperatures.