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SoCal agency to reduce water deliveries

April 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Millions of people in Southern California could be on mandatory water restrictions this summer. The Metropolitan Water District, which provides the water used by 19 million Southern Californians, voted Tuesday to reduce deliveries to the region, and to raise fees by nearly 20 percent.

The move comes as the MWD deals with the ongoing drought and legal restrictions on water use. Over the past two years, the MWD has depleted more than half of its water reserves because of the drought, and officials say this year's Sierra Nevada snowpack is not sufficient to refill state reservoirs.

Additionally, a U.S. District Court has placed restrictions on water pumping in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to protect an endangered fish, the delta smelt.

It is the first time in 18 years that the MWD has cut supplies to member agencies. It will be up to those individual agencies to set water rationing plans.

"There is no one-size-fits-all conservation solution," Tom Brick, chairman of the MWD board told the Associated Press. "If we want to protect the region's water reserves, we will all need to reduce our water use and use it more efficiently."

Local water agencies will also set rate increases for their customers to offset the increased fees from the MWD. On average, most people will see a $2 to $5 increase in their monthly bills beginning in September.

Meanwhile, California will be getting some help for its water problems from the federal government. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is pledging $260 million in federal stimulus money to help the state deal with its water shortage and fund water infrastructure projects.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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