Current drought conditions throughout the western United States are stressing regional water supplies, including the State Water Project and the Colorado River, two integral sources of water for the Southern California region. While regional investments in storage and supply diversification have secured water supplies in the short term, continued drought conditions may lead to regional water shortages in the coming year.
On July 8th, 2021 the Governor of California signed Executive Order N-10-21 declaring a regional state of emergency caused by current drought conditions that called on Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15 percent to protect the State’s available water resources. If such conservation savings were achieved, state officials estimate that water could be kept in reserves that could be used later to supply over 1.7 million households for a year. On August 16th the Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the United States Interior Department responsible for managing water supplies on the Colorado River, declared a water shortage on the Colorado River due to low storage levels in the Nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Meade. While California will not see cutbacks in the near term, there is increasing concern about the status of water resources in the Colorado River basin. On August 17th the Metropolitan Water District (Metropolitan) of Southern California declared a “Water Shortage Alert”, a shortage condition that expands public outreach regarding the need for water conservation. At this time, Metropolitan is also encouraging retail water agencies within their service area to carefully review local supply conditions and respond as appropriate.
The District’s Water Shortage Response Program (Administrative Code, Article 17) identifies practical conservation measures that are in place at all times (Normal Conditions), and contains six levels to aid the District’s response to water shortage conditions.
At this time, a Drought Level 1 has been declared, which encourages voluntary conservation measures such as:
- Avoid washing off sidewalks, roadways and other hardscape with a hose
- Use a positive shutoff nozzle when hand watering landscapes or washing a car
- Eliminate runoff from landscape irrigation, reduce irrigation during cooler weather and avoid watering after measurable rain events
- Check water systems for leaks, and make repairs promptly