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Metropolitan Water District officials say while the public is cutting back on gas due to record prices, residents need to cut back on water usage and conserve because there is a shortage.
Officials say the state's water shortage is critically low. They've issued a "water supply alert" urging the 26 cities and water agencies in the six counties it serves throughout the Southland, from L.A. to parts of San Diego, to enforce and toughen their drought ordinances.
"Well most cities in Southern California have ordinances that restrict times of watering, tell people not to have water running off their property when they're watering, not to be hosing off their sidewalks and driveways, things like that," said Metropolitan Water District General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger.
Officials say more and more cities are enforcing the ordinances and slapping violators with fines.
"Some cities do enforce these ordinances. Long Beach has done that, where they've actually issued fines. The city of Los Angeles has their drought busters that go around and typically they warn people, but they can actually fine people if they find that they are wasting water," said Kightlinger.
Some people say they understand the need to conserve water now.
"I usually run the dishwasher only once a week, load it as much as possible. And I take shorter showers, but I don't have a yard so I don't have to worry about that," said Corry Nastro.
"Take shorter showers, turn off the faucet, don't let the faucet run when you're brushing your teeth. These are things they teach you in third grade. I mean, this is basic stuff," said Tanya Guzman.
Water district officials say Southern California's main sources of imported water have faced record dry conditions for eight of the last nine years.
"We haven't had a water situation like this in a couple of decades and it's a couple of things. It's very dry weather up north, in Northern California we get a lot of our water. It's dry weather on the Colorado River and that basin where we get a lot of out water. But finally there's a number of endangered species issues that is restricting our ability even to pump water when we have it," said Kightlinger.
Water District officials say they need cities and residents to comply voluntarily before things get even worse, otherwise mandatory cutbacks could go into effect.
"Step three is that rationing stage, and we're really trying to avoid that," said Kightlinger.
Here are a few tips to conserve water:
- Fix leaky faucets
- Shorten showers
- Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher
- Use brooms instead of a hose to clean patios, driveways, and sidewalks
- Install 'smart' sprinkler control systems