The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) met on Aug. 17 to discuss the alert as the state continues to be impacted by drought with reservoirs dropping to historic lows in both the Colorado River and the Northern Sierra.
“The Colorado River is sending us a clear message: conserve, reuse, and recycle,” Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said in an Aug. 16 statement. “The river has been a lifeline for Southern California for more than 80 years. The shortage announcement moves the river into a new era and reinforces the need for Southern Californians to use less water to preserve this critical supply … A further lowering in the reservoir could trigger a required contribution from Metropolitan in the near future.”
Hagekhalil warned residents about the impact of low reservoir levels a day before the board moved to support state efforts to conserve water.
The announcement by MWD comes a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom requested state residents decrease their water intake after 50 of 58 counties were declared to be under a state emergency drought proclamation.
“This is a time when we all need to come together as a state to address the crisis,” Hagekhalil said in an Aug. 17 statement. “We are working with the governor’s office and water agencies throughout California to maximize available supplies. We encourage Southern California to step up again, just as we have in the past, to do our part to reduce our region’s water use.”
Despite the call to voluntarily conserve water, public commenters on Tuesday afternoon don’t believe it is enough.
Conner Everts, executive director of the Southern California Watershed Alliance, urged the board to issue a mandatory conservation effort.
“Colorado River which has been in not drought but climate change for 20 over the last 22 years,” he said. “We need to move forward faster as the levels continue to drop to historic lows. The baseline that we’ve planned so much water supply on has changed, we should be planning for the driest days.”
While Southern California counties are not listed under the state emergency drought proclamation, MWD urges residents to conserve and avoid the consequences of running the reservoirs dry.