State Water Project to Cut Supply in Los Angeles to Zero in 2022

By Joyce Kuo
Joyce Kuo
Joyce Kuo
December 2, 2021 Updated: January 6, 2022

LOS ANGELES—Due to the California State Water Project cutting its water allocation to zero for 2022, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) urged all customers to reduce water usage immediately, in a recent statement.

As the largest municipal water and power utility in the nation, LADWP relies on imported water, which accounts for 80 percent of its water supply, to serve more than 680,000 households and businesses in the City of Los Angeles, where 40 percent of water—60 percent during dry years—comes from the State Water Project, according to its statement.

“We want to stress to our residents, businesses large and small, and industrial customers, the dire situation we are now facing as a result of two consecutive dry years, and that by further conserving water now, they can make a big difference,” said Anselmo Collins, the head of the utility’s water system. “We need every single LADWP customer to step up and take action as we face a third dry year and serious drought.”

The State Water Project is the nation’s largest state-owned water and power generator, delivering clean water to 27 million people—about the population of Texas—and 750,000 acres of farmland and businesses throughout the state, according to the Department of Water Resources (DWR).

Each year, the water project’s initial water allocations are released by Dec. 1 based on “available water storage and projected water supply demands” and updated later based on snowpack and water runoff conditions, according to a DWR news release.

For the 2021 water year, which started on Oct. 1, the initial allocation from the water project was 10 percent. However, the final allocation was lowered in March to five percent—the lowest allocation thus far—following a dry winter, according to the DWR.

As California is heading into a third dry year, the water project’s allocation cut “shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone,” said Jennifer Pierre, the general manager of the State Water Contractors, a statewide, non-profit association of 27 public agencies that purchase water under contract from the State Water Project.

She added that the severity of the drought has been hurting the state’s economy and employment.

Drought doesn’t come in cycles anymore; it is simply our new normal. Adapting to that new normal will require us to continue investing in the SWP, develop local water supplies and make conservation a way of life,” Pierre said.

LADWP spokesperson Dawn Cotterell said the utility has other sources of water including conservation, stormwater capture, recycled water, and its water source from the Eastern Sierras.

To reduce water usage, LADWP has been applying Phase II of the Water Conservation Ordinance since 2009:

All outdoor watering is prohibited between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and plant watering is limited to three days a week, according to the ordinance.

For non-conserving nozzle sprinkler systems, watering cycles should be limited to eight minutes maximum per station per watering day. For conserving nozzle sprinkler systems, two 15-minute cycles per watering day are allowed.

In addition, no customer should use a water hose to wash any paved surfaces, including sidewalks, walkways, driveways, and parking areas, “except to alleviate immediate safety or sanitation hazards.”

Use of water-pressure devices for graffiti removal and of LADWP-approved water-conserving spray are also exempt.

To encourage residents and businesses to save water, LADWP has been offering a wide array of rebates and incentives, including a $400 high-efficiency clothes washer rebate, a $3 per-square-foot rebate for replacing natural grass with turf, and a technical assistance program of up to $2 million for businesses to perform customized water-saving improvements at their facilities.

Joyce Kuo