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So Cal Water District Lifts Restrictions For 7 Million People Following Months Of Rainfall

Water restrictions had been in place since June 2022

By Evan Symon, March 16, 2023 2:35 am

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced on Wednesday that emergency restrictions that had been in place since 2022 have been formally rescinded, allowing 7 million people to return to regular water usage for the time being.

Restrictions were in place in parts of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties in June of last year due to both the megadrought in California and a shortage of water for residential use. Many residential uses of water were restricted for millions of Californians, including limiting outdoor watering to once a week. By the end of the year, many experts predicted that even more restrictions were likely in the coming year.

However, many atmospheric river storms barraged California with rain and snow this winter. Record rain and snow fall in January up to and including this month have caused dozens of deaths and tens of millions of dollars in destruction, but have brought positives regarding California’s drought situation.

Earlier this month, half of California was listed as no longer under drought conditions. Reservoirs across the state are also being rapidly refilled, ground water has been recharged significantly, and snowpack on mountains is currently above 200%, with 100% being measured on April 1st generally being considered an indicator if much of California will get enough water for the rest of the year.

With California having an extremely wet year thus far, and more rain likely on the way, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced Wednesday and end to the June 2022 restrictions.

“The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will no longer mandate emergency restrictions on water use for nearly 7 million people after winter storms helped alleviate shortage conditions that severely limited the availability of state water supplies, the Board of Directors decided Tuesday,” the Water District said in a statement Wednesday.

“The mandated emergency restrictions removed Tuesday had been in place since June 2022 and required six of Metropolitan’s member agencies in portions of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties to limit outdoor watering to one day a week or live within volumetric limits. They were implemented after the state announced it would only be able to deliver a minimal amount of water in 2022 through the SWP, which brings water from Northern California to the south. The affected communities had limited access to other water supplies.”

Metropolitan Board Chairman Adán Ortega, Jr. also noted, “We know these last nine months were a sacrifice for the dozens of communities under mandatory restrictions. On behalf of Metropolitan, I want to express our deep appreciation to all those who helped us stretch our available water supplies to get us through the acute emergency. We needed a 35 percent reduction in use, and through your remarkable efforts, you achieved that. Thank you.”

Record rainfall, Record snowfall help remove restrictions

However, while restrictions are now gone, the district noted that local water boards may still have restrictions affecting different cities and towns, and that people should still check with them first to avoid any fines or visits. They also noted that cuts in water coming from the Colorado River were likely to happen later this year and urged residents to still be careful on their water usage as a result.

“Though Metropolitan is no longer requiring these restrictions, local water providers may still have mandatory measures in place. Residents and businesses are encouraged to contact their local water provider for the latest rules on water use in their communities,” added the District.

“While the board’s action reflects improvements in the availability of State Water Project supplies, storage reserves have been drawn down and significant challenges remain to the region’s other source of imported water – the Colorado River. Metropolitan continues to call on residents and businesses across the region to use water as efficiently as possible to refill storage and prepare for potential steep cuts to supplies from the Colorado River.”

Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil cautioned that “While we certainly appreciate the improved water supply conditions, I want to caution everyone that our challenges are not over. We ask everyone to remain diligent in saving water regardless of the weather. We also continue to face major uncertainties on our water supplies from the Colorado River.”

Despite that, water experts noted the quick turnaround on Wednesday, noting that the Board, despite being very conservative with water use, still thought the situation had improved so much that Southern Californian residents could have restrictions be lifted.

“Those restrictions made a lot of people upset,” said Cherrie Anderson, a water policy advisor, to the Globe on Wednesday. “But we have just been getting so much water, with so much already being stored and so much ready to come down from the mountains when it warms up. There was no way they could have said no.”

More rain and snow fall is expected to come in the next week across the state, adding both to the flooding woes in many areas, as well as likely erasing more of the state off the drought list.

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Evan Symon
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One thought on “So Cal Water District Lifts Restrictions For 7 Million People Following Months Of Rainfall

  1. When will MWD and other water districts demand that Democrats who control the legislature and Gov. Newsom build new dams and water storage facilities to capture the all the water from storms like California has been experiencing? Don’t hold your breath?

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