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Local water wholesaler takes emergency action over drought


The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) this week took emergency action in response to the regional drought, imposing unprecedented restrictions that will limit outdoor watering to one day per week for roughly 6 million people.

As the region’s major water wholesaler, MWD officials said the restriction will apply to its member agencies that are heavily dependent on supplies from the State Water Project, but MWD called on all Southern California residents and businesses to slash water use by 30 percent to combat drought conditions “unlike anything we’ve experienced before.”

The MWD said the once-a-week watering restriction will impact about 6 million people in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties. The district’s board approved the measure Tuesday, but it is scheduled to take effect June 1.

MWD member water agencies that fail to enforce the requirement among its customers will face fines of up to $2,000 per acre-foot of water supplied by MWD that exceeds monthly allocation limits.

The state has already severely restricted supplies from the State Water Project, cutting deliveries to 5 percent of requested allocations.

Although the MWD’s definition of State Water Project-dependent areas is still in flux, the outdoor-watering restriction is primarily expected to impact northwestern areas of Los Angeles County and parts of the San Gabriel Valley.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last month directed MWD and other water suppliers statewide to ramp up conservation efforts by advancing water-shortage contingency plans.

MWD offers a rebate of $2 per square foot for people who replace their grass with water-efficient landscaping. Rebates are also available from other local water agencies.

The rebate program has helped remove 200 million square feet of grass, which has saved enough water to provide about 62,000 homes with water each year, officials said.