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October 2008

California Drought Continues

The drought gripping California is different than any we have experienced before, caused by a confluence of issues that cannot be solved by rainfall alone.  If the calls for water conservation seem like business as usual, think again.  This is not a case of the common drought.

“Our water supply is dangerously low due to record dry conditions and environmental factors,” said Metropolitan Board Chairman Timothy F. Brick.  “We have entered a new and worrisome water era, where the problems of below-normal rain and snowfall are made much worse by water supply restrictions due to deteriorating environmental conditions. It is time to make every drop count.”

Following Governor Schwarzenegger’s drought declaration in early June, the Metropolitan Board implemented the first-ever Water Supply Alert for its six-county service area. The Water Supply Alert calls on member agencies and local governments to enact “extraordinary conservation measures.” Examples include adopting and implementing drought ordinances that restrict outdoor water use, tiered rate structures that penalize excessive water use and enhanced rebate programs that encourage residents to buy water-saving toilets, washing machines and “smart” sprinkler system controllers.

For the past year, Metropolitan has compensated for the declining water supply by drawing down on its reserves to meet everyday demands.   The Water Supply Alert is intended to stretch the reserve supplies by lowering demand through local approaches.

“With the environmental problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (a traditional source of 30 percent of Southern California’s water supplies), there is no guarantee that Metropolitan can continue to replenish its reserves even when this dry cycle ends,” said Metropolitan General Manager Jeff Kightlinger.  “Reliability will require a permanent reduction in water demand. Metropolitan stands ready to work with member agencies and local governments to lower water demand in ways that work for everyone.”

 Southern California’s past experience with droughts has taught us many lessons in how to use water more efficiently.  The difference this time is that even a few rainy seasons will not solve the problem.  Going forward, Southland residents and businesses must make permanent changes to the way they use water every day. It is our best and the only choice for the future.

This newsletter is produced by the:
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
700 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012