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Climate and Environment

Outdoor Watering Will Be Limited To Once A Week Under New Restrictions Covering 6 Million SoCal Residents

A sign in the desert has a skull and cross bones image and reads: Danger Extreme Heat Conditions Ahead
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, seen here last month, is among many areas threatened by climate change and drought.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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As the state plods through a three-year drought, close to 6 million Southern Californians who get their water from the Metropolitan Water District will be limited to outdoor watering once a week — or be forced to find other ways to cut back.

The agency voted to implement an emergency water conservation program for the first time ever on Tuesday.

The order:

  • Prohibits counties, cities and public agencies from approving new groundwater well permits
  • Encourages all Californians to limit summertime water use
  • Urges urban water suppliers to conserve more than the emergency regulations require.

To many, this is not a surprise. On April 1, state water scientists made a disappointing announcement — snow levels in the Sierra Nevada range measured nearly 40% below average during the last snowpack survey of the season.

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And last month, California water officials reduced the State Water Project allocation to 5% from 15%. The project includes a network of reservoirs and dams that provide water to multiple districts and millions of California residents.

The Las Virgenes Municipal Water district, which covers 75,000 people in Agoura Hills, Calabasas and other nearby communities, also took steps recently to cut its outdoor water use in half.

The weather hasn’t exactly helped entirely. While parts of the Sierras saw more than 30 inches of snow last week, it's nowhere near enough to help California with the drought.

"With a long-term drought, we're really not going to see a whole lot of relief from it, from the most recent storms, unfortunately," said Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist for UC Berkeley's Central Sierra Snow Lab.

Still, every snowflake and every raindrop helps.

Expect more calls to dial back your water use, Schwartz said. We're looking at another hot, dry summer.

What questions do you have about Southern California?