Environment

Another Drought Emergency Has Been Declared In Southern California

The water district serving 19 million people in and around Los Angeles is telling residents to conserve water to avoid worse restrictions.

Another Drought Emergency Has Been Declared In Southern California
Jae C. Hong / AP
SMS

Even as parts of the West thaw from monster snowstorms, the megadrought drying up some of the country's most critical water supplies still has a stranglehold.

It's now prompted another drought emergency in southern California, as the state stares down another year of desperately dry conditions.

The water wholesaler for 19 million people in and around Los Angeles says utilities need to take dramatic steps to conserve water. With conditions only getting more dire, the supplier says mandatory restrictions could well be on the horizon for millions in southern California.

For Cape Powers — the man in charge of securing water for a city in neighboring Arizona — what California does to conserve water has a direct impact. The states share sources of water, mainly via the Colorado River. 

"Water is a long game, and I'm glad it is because I'm glad people are looking out 50 to 100 years," Powers said.

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While some California water agencies have pledged to cut about 9% of the water they pull from the Colorado River by 2026, many critics think it's not nearly enough.

"Preparing for these things isn't a moment in time; it's a continual process over time, and we'll continue to do that," Powers said. "We have work to do. We'll continue to do it."

It's another extreme for California, a state already navigating record high temperatures in the summer and intense wildfires all year.

"The hottest temperatures recorded on planet Earth, many of them from here in the state of California," California Gov. Gavin Newsom said. "Folks that otherwise would be fighting fires, we're out there preparing to mitigate fires next year by working actively on forest management projects."

Now the state is staring down the barrel of a water scarcity that threatens to simply dry up the American West.

"Everybody's part of the solution. Everybody's part of the problem," said Laura Haskell, drought coordinator for the Utah Division of Water Resources.