Thursday March 23, 2017

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Metropolitan Water District ends mandatory use-reduction program

With statewide supplies improving, the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District, the water wholesaler for Southern California, voted today to end a mandatory use-reduction program it imposed on its 26 member agencies to combat the drought.

The board, however, continued to stress the need for conservation,
maintaining a Water Supply Alert that calls for water agencies and customers to
continue efforts to reduce their use.

“We join our member agencies and retailers throughout the region in
thanking consumers for their continued water-saving efforts in response to the
record drought,” MWD board chairman Randy Record said. “The fact is that we
would not be taking this action today were it not for the public’s support and
diligence.”

The MWD board last year mandated a 15 percent cut in the amount of water
it supplies to its member agencies — only the fourth time in history the
wholesaler had taken such a drastic action. Under the order, agencies that
exceeded their MWD allocation were forced to pay punitive rates, ranging from
$1,480 to $2,960 per acre-foot of water. An acre-foot is roughly the amount of
water needed to serve two households for a year.

The action came shortly after Gov. Jerry Brown called for a 25 percent
reduction in water use below 2013 levels in response to the region’s continuing
drought.

In a report to the board today, MWD staffers noted that the State Water
Project had increased water allocations to 60 percent of requests, its highest
level in four years. MWD officials also said the agency plans to add water to
its storage systems this year following “three consecutive years of
withdrawals.”

The district expects to store about 400,000 acre-feet of water this year.

“We might be able to breathe a little easier since the severity of the
drought has eased, but we all need to hold tight to the smart conservation
practices we’ve adopted, like planting California-friendly landscaping, washing
only full loads of laundry, fixing leaks, taking shorter showers and installing
water-efficient devices,” MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said.

On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order to permanently
bans activities such as hosing off sidewalks, driveways and other hard
surfaces; using hoses without shut-off nozzles to wash cars; allowing runoff to
occur when watering lawns; and failing to re-circulate fountain water.

Urban water suppliers like the Department of Water and Power will also
need to provide monthly reports about water use, conservation and enforcement.

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