Recent storms have brought relief to Southern California's severe drought situation, leading the region's water wholesaler to lift emergency outdoor water restrictions implemented last year. On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) announced the decision, which affects six local water agencies in Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties. These agencies, serving approximately 6 million people, had been required to limit outdoor watering to one day per week since June 1, 2022.
While lifting the restrictions, MWD officials emphasized that the state's water supply is still limited and urged residents to continue conserving water. They also stated that member agencies can maintain watering restrictions at their discretion.
MWD board chair Adán Ortega Jr. expressed gratitude for the communities' sacrifices during the mandatory restrictions, which helped achieve a 35 percent reduction in water use. He thanked everyone for their efforts in conserving water and stretching supplies during the crisis.
Water use restrictions were initially imposed due to the decreasing state-level water reserves. In December, water agencies across the state were informed they would receive only 5% of their requested allocations. However, as winter storms replenished supplies, the allocation increased to 30% in January and 35% in February.
MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil warned that challenges still remain and urged everyone to conserve water, regardless of weather conditions. He also highlighted uncertainties regarding water supplies from the Colorado River.
The federal government has instructed California and six other states to develop plans for reducing their dependence on Colorado River water starting next year.
Most Los Angeles residents, served by the L.A. Department of Water and Power, were unaffected by the once-a-week restriction. City officials permitted watering twice a week instead of the original three days, with odd-numbered street addresses allowed to water on Mondays and Fridays and even-numbered addresses on Thursdays and Sundays.