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The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California declared a supply alert — a request for the region to cut water use and prepare for this historic drought to continue. According to the supply alert, citizens of Southern California must voluntarily reduce their water consumption so that the region’s storage reserves remain intact. The supply alert also aims to stave off further intense water restrictions in the future.
This decision comes on the heels of an infrastructure bill passed through the U.S. Senate that would modernize water pipes and storage in addition to other improvements. The bill designates $8.3 billion for water projects that could further help California stretch its existing water resources through periods of intense drought.
Why This Matters: The drought sparking this series of legislation is one of the worst on record. Federal officials declared the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River, which via Lake Mead, supplies water to 40 million people in the region. After a winter of critically low rain, snowpack loss due to fire, drought, and climate change, reservoirs like Lake Mead are at an all-time low and dwindling rapidly.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) is one of the largest water suppliers, sending water to about 19 million people across six counties. This supply alert is the agency’s first in seven years and the third of four escalating phases in MWD’s Water Supply Condition Framework.
Go Deeper: California’s Governor Gavin Newsom signaled this week that mandatory statewide water restrictions could be coming soon.
A “Wake-Up Call:” As drought conditions continue to worsen and climate change accelerates, legislation rebuilding the West’s water infrastructure will be vital in keeping the area’s crops, wildlife, and residents hydrated.
Levels for Southern California’s primary water sources, the Colorado River and the State Water Project, which provide the district with about half its water, are historically low. The largest reservoir on the Colorado River, Lake Mead, which supplies 25 million people in the West, dipped into 35% capacity.
Meanwhile, the water level of one of the State Water Project’s largest reservoirs, Lake Oroville, has dropped so low its major hydroelectric power plant went offline for the first time. The State Water Project has already reduced Southern California’s water allocation to 5%, and next year could reduce that allocation to zero.
“This is a wake-up call for what lies ahead. This is climate change,” MWD Chief Operating Officer Deven Upadhyay said at a press conference. “This water supply alert sounds the start of a unified message across our region.”
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer For decades, uranium mining has contaminated the Navajo Nation, causing higher cancer rates and water pollution. Even though the health risks and environmental harms of uranium mining are well-established, new operations continue to move forward. One local group, the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) hasn’t found a […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he would extend the drought emergency statewide and issued an executive order to have residents conserve water. As part of this effort, eight new counties were added to the state of emergency, and authorized the State Water Resources Control Board was authorized to […]
By Elizabeth Love, ODP Contributing Writer Authorities in the Canadian Arctic territory Nunavut, announced a state of emergency this week due to a possible contamination event affecting the City of Iqaluit’s water supply. Tests were performed after residents reported the smell of gasoline coming from their tap water, but they came back clean. However, […]
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