Brown grasses. Concerns about the death of the tree. Big fines.
Drought and climate change are forcing unprecedented water restrictions in parts of Southern California and millions of residents are wondering what will happen next.
Here’s a guide to what we know.
On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Water District ordered outdoor water use to be restricted to just one day a week for about 6 million people in parts of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties. The restrictions will take effect June 1 and apply to areas dependent on water from the drought-ravaged State Water Project.
6 million affected
The regulations do not cover all of Southern California. According to a map released Tuesday by the MWD, the areas include a large swath of Ventura County, as well as the San Fernando Valley, the west side of Los Angeles, sections of the San Gabriel Valley and southwestern San Bernardino County. .
A worsening drought
At the heart of the crisis is a worsening drought that has gripped California and the American Southwest. Extreme drought has left Southern California with a dwindling water supply. “These areas are dependent on extremely limited supplies from Northern California and there is not enough supply available to meet normal demands in these areas for the rest of the year,” said Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of MWD.
What could be next?
Officials have warned that even more water supply restrictions could emerge in parts of Southern California if conditions don’t improve. “If we don’t see cutbacks, or conditions don’t improve, the metropolitan board has given me the authority to ban all irrigation as soon as September 1,” Hagekhalil said.
Brown lawns, protective trees
With outdoor watering severely limited, officials expect some lawns will need to turn brown. “We can’t afford green lawns,” said Hagekhalil. However, there are exceptions to the new rules that are meant to protect the region’s trees, which provide valuable shade and help avoid the dangerous health effects of the heat. “The fact is we don’t want to see our beautiful and ecologically important tree canopy suffer because of these restrictions,” said Deven Upadhyay, MWD’s director of operations. “People should be able to continue hand-watering their trees.”
How to preserve?
We’ve all been through this drill so many times that some of the obvious steps to save water have become almost second nature. Less lawn watering. shorter showers. Fewer blushes. But as you cut back on household water usage, experts warn that tinkering alone can’t get us out of the multi-year drought we’re in.