Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, issues the following statement on the California Department of Water Resources’ initial State Water Project allocation of 5 percent, plus additional supplies to meet health and safety needs:
General Manager Hagekhalil:
“After the three driest years in state history, we are certainly hoping for some reprieve this winter. But the tough reality is, we must be prepared for this historic drought to continue. This initial allocation is an important indicator of what Southern California should be ready for in the months ahead: very limited supplies from the State Water Project. For the fourth year in a row, this critical supply – on average the source of 30 percent of the region’s water – could remain at a trickle.
“In response, Metropolitan will continue our emergency drought restrictions in communities that rely on state project water, requiring them to either limit outdoor watering to one day a week or live within volumetric limits. But the nearly seven million people who live in those communities are not the only ones who will be affected by a low allocation of state supplies. The rest of Southern California must also immediately lower their use of Metropolitan’s imported supplies. Our other source of imported water – the Colorado River – is also facing accelerating constraints as a result of a 22-year drought and a changing climate. Despite our ongoing efforts to reduce reliance on the Colorado River, we are preparing for additional reductions there as well, as soon as next year.
“These decreases to both our imported water sources mean everyone across Southern California must take measures to stretch the limited water we have. Our initial call for increased conservation regionwide will be voluntary, but if we don’t see significant precipitation this winter, Metropolitan may implement a water supply allocation plan for its entire service area, requiring mandatory restrictions across the region.
“Metropolitan is doing everything we can to alleviate the immediate crisis and make investments to provide more tools than emergency conservation alone. We are expediting the development of one of the world’s largest recycled water projects, exploring new storage opportunities, and investing in the resilience of our distribution system. But now we need the public’s help. We can get through this by working together."
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that, along with its 26 cities and retail suppliers, provides water for 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.