Science and TechClimate Change


Officials Ask Californians To Limit Water Usage Amid Historic Drought

Critical water supplies to the American southwest are drying up.
Posted at 8:39 PM, Apr 28, 2022

In a rare move for Southern California, the region's biggest water supplier asked millions in and around Los Angeles to limit outdoor watering to one day a week. 

"This is all hands on deck effort by all of us, all managers, all operators, but also all Southern Californians. This is real. This is serious. This is unprecedented," said Adel Hagekhalil, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California General Manager.

The man in charge of So-Cal's water supplier says if they don't see water use come down headed into summer, they may ask Southern Californians to stop all outdoor use. 

"And if we don't see the change beyond that, and if conditions worsen, we will get to the specific allocation," Hagekhalil continued. "Everyone will get their budget of 88 gallons per person per day. And we all have to manage through that." 

It comes as critical water supplies to the American southwest dry up. 

Colby Pellegrino works for the Southern Nevada Water Authority. 

"The situation on the Colorado River is not good right now. Water levels are low, shortages are starting," Pellegrino said. "Climate change is expected to decrease our flows even more."

Water is being stockpiled in huge reservoirs, but Lake Mead and Lake Powell are at unprecedented lows. 

"The reservoirs are getting lower," Pellegrino continued. "They're working as they should, but we have to do more to drop our demands across all use sectors in order to be able to get through what the future is going to hold on the Colorado River." 

In Colorado, farmers are now getting access to federal help after the USDA leveled an unprecedented, statewide natural disaster area declaration amid the drought. 

"It's the changing climate that we cannot rely on anymore," Hagekhalil said.

In Southern California, for now that means a minor sacrifice — fewer green lawns — while state leaders figure out how to get usage in line with what mother nature provides and what we have on hand. 

"Storage is the future for us, for our resiliency, for the future of our region," Hagekhalil continued.

"We can fight about what each state needs to do and what each state does better, but at the end of the day we're citizens of our own community, of our own state, but we're also citizens of the Colorado River Basin, and it's really incumbent upon us to work together," Pellegrino said.