In response to worsening drought conditions, the board of Southern California's regional water wholesaler declared a Water Supply Alert Tuesday that calls upon residents to voluntarily conserve the precious resource.
The alert does not lead to any mandatory restrictions, but Californians and water agencies are urged to voluntarily conserve water.
This comes as the state's water supply has been severely impacted by extreme drought in the Northern Sierra and Colorado River, according to Metropolitan Water District officials. They say the state's storage reservoirs have never been lower.
As a way to safeguard storage reserves, the board declared the Water Supply Alert to stress the urgency of the region's need to save as many drops as possible.
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Metropolitan's proposed action comes a day after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation declared the first-ever mandatory water cutbacks for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico next year due to a shortage on the Colorado River. The federal government's declaration comes as Nevada's Lake Mead, the river's biggest reservoir, measures at its lowest level since the reservoir was created by construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s.
Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said Lake Mead's low levels should be a wake-up call.
"The Colorado River is sending us a clear message: conserve, reuse and recycle," Hagekhalil said. "The river has been a lifeline for Southern California for more than 80 years. This shortage announcement moves the river into a new era and reinforces the need for Southern Californians to use less water to preserve this critical supply."
Metropolitan's action Tuesday also would support Gov. Gavin Newsom's call last month for Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15% amid worsening conditions across the West Coast.
According to the governor's office, a 15% cut in water use would save 850,000 acre-feet of water -- enough to supply more than 1.7 million households for a year.
Should conditions worsen, Metropolitan officials could later decide to take further action, including imposing financial penalties for excessive use on Metropolitan's 26 member public agencies and retail suppliers that provide water for 19 million people in six counties.
City News Service contributed to this report.