California reduces supplies to water agencies amid drought
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Urban water users and farmers from California, who rely on supplies from state reservoirs will get less than planned this year, as drought fears of a third consecutive year become reality, state officials announced Friday.
Water agencies that serve 27 million people and 750,000 acres (303,514 hectares) of farmland, will get just 5% of what they’ve requested this year from state supplies beyond what’s needed for critical activities such as drinking and bathing.
That’s down from the 15% allocation state officials had announced in January, after a wet December fueled hopes of a lessening drought.
But a wet winter didn’t materialize and unless several more inches of rain falls this month, the January-March period will be the driest start to a California year at least a century. That’s when most of the state’s rain and snow typically falls.
Mandatory restrictions on using water for outdoor activities like landscaping and other purposes may come from local water agencies as they continue to grapple with limited supplies, said Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources.
Local water agencies that know their communities’ unique needs are better poised than state officials to set water use restrictions, Nemeth said.
“I think with this reduced allocation we are going to see more urban areas in California move into some kind of mandatory water conservation,” she said in an interview.
State officials will continue urging people to voluntarily cut water use by 15%, an amount designed to get Californians’ collective water use back to what it was during the last drought, which lasted from 2012 to 2016, Nemeth said.
Statewide water use in January actually went up 2.6% compared to the same month in 2020, due to dry conditions and warm temperatures.
About a third of Southern California’s water comes from state supplies, mostly routed through the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million people. Abel Hagekhalil, the district’s general manager, said in a statement Friday that the public needs to do more to save water.
“We all need to take this drought more seriously and significantly step up our water-saving efforts to help preserve our dropping storage levels and ensure we have the water we need into the summer and fall,” he said.
California is in its second acute drought in less than a decade, and scientists say the U.S. West is broadly experiencing the worst megadrought in 1,200 years, made more intense by climate change.
California reduces supplies to water agencies amid drought The Associated Press – en Español
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