Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
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Restricting Supplies: The Board Finds the Balance
April 20, 2015
By General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger

Metropolitan’s Board of Directors recently decided to restrict supplies to our 26 member public agencies starting this July by activating our allocation plan. Click here for a brief overview of the plan and how it works. This is an important step. But it is not the only step. Metropolitan has a broader effort to lower water demand throughout Southern California during this historic drought and beyond as a way to fully support Gov. Brown’s call for a 25 percent urban water use reduction statewide.

This is an extraordinary drought, now in its fourth year in California.  The board’s action represents only the fourth time in the district’s history that Metropolitan has restricted supplies.  Metropolitan was fortunate to enter this drought with a record amount of water held in reserve.

But now is clearly the time to manage the remaining reserves very, very carefully and look at new ways to stretch the most out of the water we do have.

By the math, the board action represents roughly a 15 percent reduction in our wholesale water deliveries compared to the normal baseline. Numbers, however, are only part of the story. What Metropolitan is essentially trying to do is to help send the right financial signals to 19 million Southern Californians to take conservation to the next level at their homes.

The allocation plan is a financial signal to the member agencies to stay within their target range of supplies. If an agency exceeds its target, stiff surcharges for additional supplies kick in. We hope that does not happen. If history is any indication, the region has a record of living within its means. Residents and businesses have already lowered their water use significantly over the years. Yet this year will be quite a challenge.  Demands spike in very hot weather such as we’ve experienced these past few years. But we all know we need to do more now.

Metropolitan’s rebate program is a financial signal to all Southern Californians to remove turf as well as buy water-saving devices such as high-efficiency washers. The district has the largest conservation budget in its history--$100 million over two years--to incentivize water savings.  Look for more discussion and refinement of this program in board meetings ahead. (Find rebate information at

By restricting our imported supplies and incentivizing additional conservation through rebates and outreach, we are seeking to meet the governor’s call for an overall 25 percent reduction in urban water. Our board gave a long, hard look at finding the right balance of the proverbial “carrots and sticks” to manage through this drought year.  We will be providing allocation plan updates at monthly meetings and taking a broader look in December at where we stand.  Meanwhile, it’s time to conserve.


Archived Blogs

Mar. 20, 2015 - The Water Market: A Limited Drought Tool

Feb. 4, 2015 - Colorado River Cooperation: Maintaining Lake Mead

Nov. 10, 2014 - A Water Tunnel on Time and Under Budget

Oct. 8, 2014 - Latest on BDCP: Some “Hard-Earned Progress”

Aug. 21, 2014 - Water Supply Conditions: Into the “Yellow”

June 18, 2014 - On Several Fronts, Promising Signs of Water Progress

May 22, 2014 - Conservation: Lowering Use is Key in Warm Weather

Mar. 13, 2014 - Ops: Surviving the 1977 Drought

Feb. 24, 2014 - Surviving a Zero Allocation – Leave it to the “Ops” team

Jan. 16, 2014 - What MET's Looking for

Dec. 17, 2013 - Water Progress in Northern California

Nov. 1, 2013 - A State Water Action Plan That Fits the Times

Oct. 23, 2013 - It’s dry out there, so watch your water use

Page updated: April 20, 2015