Tired of the recent rains? At least the storms came with a silver lining.
The Metropolitan Water District on Tuesday rescinded the emergency restrictions that were put in place last year due to the state’s historic drought.
The three-year period of 2020 to 2022 was the driest period in the state’s history, prompting the district to impose limits on outdoor watering of plants to help offset reduced water supplies from the Colorado River and other impacts of the drought.
“The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will no longer mandate emergency restrictions on water use for nearly 7 million people after winter storms helped alleviate shortage conditions that severely limited the availability of state water supplies,” the MWD announced Wednesday.
Those storms have dropped record rainfall, and though they have presented dangers like mudslides and floods, they’ve also brought much of California out of extreme drought conditions.
The rapid change in the state’s water fortunes had district officials praising the assistance they received from Southland residents.
“We know these last nine months were a sacrifice for the dozens of communities under mandatory restrictions. On behalf of Metropolitan, I want to express our deep appreciation to all those who helped us stretch our available water supplies to get us through the acute emergency,” said Metropolitan board Chair Adán Ortega Jr. in a statement. “We needed a 35 percent reduction in use, and through your remarkable efforts, you achieved that. Thank you.”
But while progress has been made, some hurdles remain ahead, especially when it comes to sharing water with other states.
“To prevent the Colorado River’s reservoirs from dropping to catastrophic levels, the federal government has directed the seven Basin states that rely on the river, including California, to develop plans to cut their use of the river beginning in 2024,” the MWD said.
So for now, while the immediate danger has passed, “the region remains under a water supply alert,” and the MWD encouraged residents and businesses to “continue to reduce their water use.”
“Southern California remains in a water supply deficit. The more efficiently we all use water today, the more we can keep in storage for a future dry year,” One Water Committee Chair Tracy Quinn said. “And as we face climate whiplash, dry conditions could return as soon as next year.”
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