Coinciding with a summit with Gov. Jerry Brown, the head of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California said today the agency will double its efforts to encourage residential water conservation, while echoing the governor's call for residents to reduce water use by 20 percent.
"The dry conditions facing California are unprecedented, and this region stands united with the governor in supporting his call for a statewide approach to a statewide problem," MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said. "His message shows that California must be serious about addressing its short- and long-term water problems."
The board of the MWD, which includes 26 cities and water agencies across six Southern California counties (see their service area map), plans to formally declare a water supply alert, officially backing Brown's call for residents to voluntarily cut their water use by 20 percent, Kightlinger said.
He also said the agency will double its conservation budget from $20 million to $40 million to provide more incentives for people to reduce water use.
"Southern California water agencies have aimed to make conservation a local way of life," he said. "The city of Los Angeles, as a shining example, has maintained mandatory conservation measures since 2009. But what the state is facing right now is truly unprecedented. Southern California must continue to lead by example and partner with the rest of the state by all means feasible."
Kightlinger's comments came as he and other water officials from across Southern California met privately with Brown at the MWD headquarters to discuss his recent declaration of a statewide drought emergency.
The declaration directed state officials to take all necessary steps to prepare for water shortages.
"Every day this drought goes on, we're going to have to tighten the screws on what people are doing," Brown said.
He said the drought declaration is reminder that "we do depend on natural systems. It's not all just going to the store and seeing what we can buy."