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Severe drought in California imposes restrictions on water consumption

Southern California’s water supplier made the unprecedented decision to require some six million people to cut water to one day a week, in the face of a prolonged drought preceded by another dry winter.

The Southern California Metropolitan Water District on Tuesday declared a water shortage emergency and wants some cities and water distribution agencies to apply cuts by June 1, under penalty of fines. heavy.

“We don’t have enough water to meet normal demand. There is no water,” said District spokeswoman Rebecca Kimitch. “This is uncharted territory. We’ve never done anything like this.”

Metropolitan Water District restrictions apply to areas of Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties that rely on state water distributed by the District, including parts of the City of Los Angeles. The affected areas are mainly urban.

The purpose of limiting the use of water for watering gardens and plants or for washing cars is to save water now for later domestic use, in the summer, when water use increases, the director-general of the Metropolitan District of Southern California Water, Adel Hagekhalil.

This District uses water from the Colorado River and the State Water Project – a vast water storage and supply system – to supply 26 public agencies that supply water to 19 million people, 40% of the state’s population.

But record drought conditions have shaken the system, lowered reservoir levels, and the State Water Project, which gets its water from the Sacramento River Delta — San Joaquin, has estimated it will only be able to supply just 5% of the usual amount. , which is the second consecutive year.

January, February and March were the driest months in California history in terms of rain and snowfall, Kimitch said.

The Metropolitan District said that the years 2020 and 2021 had registered the lowest rainfall recorded in two consecutive years. Additionally, Lake Oroville, the main reservoir for the State Water Project, has reached its lowest level since it filled in the 1970s.

State Governor Gavin Newsom has urged Californians to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 15%, but so far adherence to this request has been low.

Several other Districts have instituted water conservation measures.

On Tuesday, the direction of the San Francisco Bay Municipal Public Services District, in the north of the state, voted to reduce water consumption by 10% and limit daily consumption to about 1.4 million customers in the counties. from Contra Costa and Alameda, including Oakland and Berkeley.

The Metropolitan District’s six water client agencies in the areas affected by Tuesday’s decision must ensure restriction of water use outside homes once a week or achieve equivalent reductions in water demand.

If these local agencies fail to do so, they will be fined, Metropolitan Water District chief executive Deven Upadhyay said on Wednesday.

However, state legislators have begun to lower the standard for domestic water consumption.

Today, California’s domestic water usage is 208 liters per person per day. But the state Senate approved last week, by an overwhelming majority, lowering this limit to 178 liters from 2025 and 159 liters from 2030.

The western US is experiencing a severe drought, just a few years after record rains and snowfall filled its reservoirs.

Scientists have said that this cycle of ups and downs is caused by climate change and that droughts will be longer and stronger. A study released earlier this year found that the US is in the midst of a mega-drought, which is the strongest in 1,200 years.

Source: with agencies

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