Drought Emergency Declared

(NewsGlobal.com)- Facing the prospect of a fourth consecutive dry year, the main water supplier for Southern California last week declared a regional drought emergency, calling on water agencies to reduce usage.

The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which consists of 26 member agencies serving approximately 19 million people, adopted a resolution last Tuesday declaring the drought emergency.

While the resolution calls for voluntary water conservation, it may become mandatory if conditions do not improve during the winter. Without improving conditions, by April, member agencies could face fees if they do not curb the use of imported water.

Agencies affected by the resolution include the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Municipal Water District of Orange County, and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency.

Last Tuesday’s decision comes about 8 months after officials declared a similar drought emergency for the 7 million residents who depend on supplies from the State Water Project, the network of reservoirs, canals, and dams that supply water to Northern California. However, residents who rely on the Colorado River were not included in that declaration.

Gloria Gray, the chair of the MWD of Southern California, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times that conditions along the Colorado River have grown “increasingly dire.” Gray said the region can’t continue relying on the river to “make up the difference in our limited state supplies.” She said on top of that, the three consecutive drought years in the state have drawn down local water storage.

MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil told the Los Angeles Times that since the current drought began, the MWD has been “steadily increasing our call for conservation.” Without an “extremely wet winter,” Hagekhalil added, the water district will have to “elevate to our highest level,” namely, “a water supply allocation for all of Southern California.”

Hagekhalil urged agencies to begin “substantial and immediate conservation now and in the coming months” to “help lessen the potential severity of such an allocation.”