LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Ahead of World Water Day, Metropolitan Water District officials Monday called on Southern Californians to significantly reduce their water use and warned of the possibility of mandated water conservation measures.
"California is well into its third year of drought and with winter ending in a very dry way, water conditions will get more challenging in coming months," California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said at a media briefing at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants in Sun Valley.
"We all need to do our part to conserve water and use it as efficiently as possible - and make this our way of life," Crowfoot said.
MWD officials warned if people don't cut back on water usage, mandates forcing you to conserve could be in the near future.
"We don't want to get to a place where we are actually impacting our way of life. But if we don't stretch the water we have, we may get into a place where we're going to go into health and safety restrictions," said Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. "That means the only water we get is for drinking and firefighting - so no watering of lawns."
Officials say a wet winter didn't materialize and unless several more inches of rain falls this month, the January through March period will be the driest start to a California year in at least a century.
They also add Californians haven't lived up to Gov. Gavin Newsom's call for a voluntary 15% reduction in water use compared to 2020.
January's water use was up nearly 3% compared to the same month in 2020.
Along with facing the possibility of mandates, the L.A. Department of Water and Power says residents who persistently grossly overuse water could possibly face hefty fines.
"Depending on the level of severity, the frequency of the noncompliance with our ordinance with wasteful, or unreasonable water use, potential fines can be as high as $40,000 for these high water users," said Delon Kwan, LADWP assistant director of water resources.
The state and local water municipalities asks to cut back usage 15 to 20%.
"We're asking everyone to refurbish their homes with water efficient equipment, water fixtures, anything you can do and we're here to give you rebates," Hagekhalil said.
When it comes to landscaping, officials ask you to water less and put in more native and drought resistant plants.
"Whenever you are watering a lawn you are actually applying more water, but when you incorporating those native plants and those drought tolerant plants there's less water," said landscape designer Brandy Williams.