The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California declared a water shortage emergency on April 27, and issued a one-day-a-week outdoor watering restriction for parts of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties, which is home to about 6 million southern Californians effective June 1.
Parts of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties depend on water from Northern California, via the State Water Project.
According to the State Water Project it is a multipurpose water storage and distribution system. It is an assortment of canals, pipelines, reservoirs and hydroelectric power facilities that deliver clean water to 27 million Californians, 750,000 acres of farmland, and businesses throughout California.
Water agencies that are affected by the restrictions will be letting their communities know the penalties and what their restrictions are.
The city of La Verne water agency has placed the University of La Verne in Phase V of the water restrictions. According to the city of La Verne title 13 municipal code Phase V includes commercial nurseries, golf courses, and other water dependent industries.
Phase V restrictions include only being able to water outdoors one hour before sunset and 10 a.m. for no more than five minutes per day and it can not exceed more than 20 minutes per week.
Garth Jones, physical plant operations and systems director at the University, said these restrictions are going to cause the University to look into the efficiency of what they are watering and how they are watering it, but it will not affect the way the landscaping looks.
President Devorah Lieberman said in an emailed interview that the University will be working with the campus community and the contract landscapers to reduce water as much as possible.
“We are continuously partnering with our landscapers to reduce water usage,” Lieberman said. “Where possible we have installed drip irrigation. We are asking for the community’s help in identifying leaks and water waste across the campus. We are also looking at installing rain shutoff devices. In the buildings through the campus we have installed water saving faucets to limit water consumption.”
Jones said the University will be more diligent of the amount of water it is using.
Rebecca Kimitch, Metropolitan Water District program manager, said the one-day-a-week outdoor watering restrictions is because California is in its third year of drought.
“It has been a record-breaking historic drought,”Kimitch said. “We are seeing conditions unlike anything we have ever seen in Northern California, where we get nearly a third of our water supply for Southern California.”
Although there was record snow in December in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the snowpack, which we depend on for much of our water, has mostly already melted.
Kimitch said that in the past the snowpack slowly melted and flowed down the mountains into the Metropolitan Water District reservoirs and then the water was distributed to the State Water Project during the summer when demands were high in Southern California. Climate change, however, has called for new strategies.
“The hotter and drier temperatures that we are seeing because of climate change are causing our snow pack to dissipate and disappear in a way that we have never seen before,” Kimitch said.
January to March in the past have been the wettest months, but this year they were the driest January to March the state has ever seen, which is what has led to the emergency restrictions.
Kimitch said that there have always been droughts and dry years in California.
“When there is a dry year in California, typically we just take Colorado River water and give it to all those areas that can receive Colorado River water,” Kimitch said. “And then in the areas that can only get State Water Project water because of all these infrastructure constraints, they use the limited State Water Project water that there is, and that is fine,” Kimitch said. “There is just no water for the State Water Project, which is why these areas are being put on these restrictions.”
The Metropolitan Water District will place penalties on water agencies that are not complying with the restrictions.
“There are penalties and enforcement, but the bottom line is if people aren’t doing this then it is going to get worse,” Kimitch said. “This isn’t a drill, this is a very real situation where we currently do not have the water supply to meet demands.”
For more information on how to save water, visit bewaterwise.com.
Samira Felix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.