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More Water Rationing? California Agency To Decide Next Move In Drought Fight

LOS ANGELES ( — Persistent drought conditions could trigger mandatory water rationing measures throughout Southern California for the second time in six years, officials said Monday.

The announcement by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California comes as the agency decides whether to limit deliveries and prompt mandatory rationing as the region prepares for a potential fourth straight year of drought.

While the first few days of February have brought some much-needed rain to the Southland after a historically dry January, the MWD board of directors laid out a number of possible scenaries ranging from no supply restrictions to possible cutbacks of 10 percent or more, according to MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger.

With a forecast of 930,000 acre-feet in 2015 Colorado River deliveries, MWD could be forced to make significant withdrawals from the Southland's remaining reserves to help meet water demands,Kightlinger said.

The region's reserves currently stand at about 1.2 million acre-feet, less than half of what MWD held in storage at the end of 2012.

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

If storms that recently hit Northern California fail to substantially boost state water supplies, Kightlinger said "it won't be a matter of if, but how much mandatory water cutbacks will be necessary to meet demands and maintain reasonable reserves."

"Southland consumers have responded to the water conservation challenge this past year," Kightlinger said. "We all, however, need to be prepared to take water saving to another level this summer if water supply conditions don't improve."

The board of directors is expected to consider its next move in April. If enacted, cutbacks would take effect July 1, according to Kightlinger.

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