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Home > Natural Resources > Water Strategies to Preserve Natural Resource Supplies and Quality

Los Angeles Faces Water Rationing in May 2009

Southern California is in a 3 year drought and is facing severe rationing. Voluntary water conservation NOW is the solution. Rationing is slated for May 2009.

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Update by Carolyn Allen

For the first time since 1991, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the nations largest utility voted to ration Los Angeles water use. Rationing is expected to be implemented in May 2009 unless the City Council acts before then to reject it.

Homes and businesses would pay a penalty rate that's nearly double normal prices for any water they use in excess of a reduced monthly allowance.

The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, one of the state's chief sources of fresh surface water, is far below normal, and reservoirs fed by Sierra runoff are badly depleted as well, due to a statewide drought now in its third year.

The largest municipal utility in the United States, supplying water and electricity to some 3.8 million households and businesses in Los Angeles.

Outdoor irrigation accounts for 40 percent of residential water use in the city, so the DWP board also voted to restrict lawn sprinkler use to two days a week, as urged by the mayor.

San Diego and other cities throughout California are weighing similar measures to cope with the statewide fresh water shortage.

Sources of Los Angeles Water

Heavy rains and mountain snowfall in February have provided some reflef from California's driest January on record, but they are not enough to counteract the three year drought that is gripping the state.

Complicating water distribution for the dry southern part of the state are federal court restrictions pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in northern California, which furnishes much of the state's irrigation and drinking supplies. The court order was implemented to protect endangered fish species, but is part of a broader strategy that protects the levees and the wetlands habitat that provides a natural barrier to salt water incursion into the low lying bay region.

State water managers have cut the amount of delta water they provide to irrigation districts and cities around the state to 15% of their usual contracted allotment for the year and may curb those deliveries further. This drastic curtailment has impacted farmers who have had to put orchards into forced hibernation, and change their planting choices and schedules.

The third major source of imported water to Southern California is the Colorado River basin, that is emerging from an eight-year drought, but its reservoirs remain low.

The solution is conservation. Every business and every home needs to take measures such as reducing landscape watering, replacing baths with short showers, reducing wasted water in food preparation, and reducing car washing, etc.

While mandatory restrictions are not in place yet -- every inch of reservoir water saved NOW will help us put off water restrictions to essential services later. Early voluntary action makes a difference -- and is a cost saving action at the same time.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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