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California Enters Sixth Year Of Drought

LOS ANGELES ( — It's a new water year, but nothing has changed as far as the drought is concerned.

Metropolitan Water District officials say the Golden State can weather its sixth year of drought, but consumers and businesses still have to do their part to conserve.

"The reality is that California is still in a drought. We're just not in a state of emergency," MWD board Chairman Randy Record said. "Heading into 2017, we're hoping to build on the supply momentum created by Southern California's ongoing water-saving efforts and improved storage conditions this year."

Southern California is in a stronger position in terms of water, thanks to increases in reservoirs and local groundwater basins. Additionally, the agency received a 60 percent allocation from the State Water Project this year, more than the last three years combined.

"The increased state supplies and local water-saving is allowing us to start rebuilding our storage by up to 500,000 acre-feet by the end of the year. That's the first increase to regional reserves in four years," MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said.

An acre-foot of water is nearly 326,000 gallons, about the amount used by two average Southland households.

But environmental restrictions up north and possible shortages in deliveries from the Colorado River mean there are still uncertainties in the water supply.

"Those pumping restrictions could cost Southern California of up to a third of our State Water Project supplies in average years unless the system is updated," Record said. "You can just look at Diamond Valley Lake this year to see the impacts. Chances are we would have been able to fill the lake had it not been for pumping cutbacks."

The MWD provides water to 26 cities and water agencies that serve nearly 19 million people in six counties.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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