Southern California water supplier adopts unprecedented rule limiting outdoor irrigation

Edict will limit outdoor watering to one day per week for roughly 6 million people, largely in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys as well as areas in San Bernardino County.

Southern California’s water wholesaler took emergency action on Tuesday, April 26, in response to the regional drought, imposing unprecedented restrictions that will limit outdoor watering to one day per week for roughly 6 million people, largely in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys as well as areas in San Bernardino County.

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California officials said the restriction will apply to its member agencies that are heavily dependent on supplies from the State Water Project, but MWD called on all Southern California residents and businesses to slash water use by 30% to combat drought conditions “unlike anything we’ve experienced before.”

According to the MWD, the once-a-week watering restriction will impact about 6 million people in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties. The district’s board approved the measure Tuesday, but it is scheduled to take effect June 1.


The Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors on Tuesday said it does not have enough water to meet normal demand in many parts of Southern California.

As a result, the MWD has asked six of its member agencies to consider requiring its customers to restrict outdoor watering to just one day per week, or find other ways to conserve water, according to the large water agency that provides water to 19 million people in six counties.

The restrictions will affect 6 million people in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties. The board approved the emergency measures on Tuesday, April 26 but they are scheduled to take effect June 1.

Those six agencies are:

  • Inland Empire Utilities Agency;
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power;
  • The Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District;
  • Three Valleys Municipal Water District;
  • Calleguas Municipal Water District; and
  • Los Virgines Municipal Water District.

IEUA covers seven major cities in southwestern San Bernardino County: Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Upland, Montclair, Ontario, Chino and Chino Hills.

LADWP areas affected include large portions of the San Fernando Valley.

Upper SGV district takes in more than 1 million people in the San Gabriel Valley.

Three Valleys supplies water to 13 agencies, including cities of Walnut, Claremont and La Verne.

IEUA will not be asking for one day a week watering. Instead it will ask their retail customers to increase conservation efforts. Also, some cities and retail water suppliers under their umbrellas are being asked to shift away from water imported from Northern California to local supplies. Local supplies include ground water and recycled water.

Each retailer within the IEUA area has the option to enforce restrictions on outdoor watering or to implement other water conservation measures.

“It is on a case-by-case basis. Some retailer will be asked to reduce imported water demand. Some may be able to do it,” said Shivaji Deshmukh, general manager of IEUA on Tuesday, April 26.

Officials are expected to provide more details on the policy during a news conference Wednesday morning, to be livecast n YouTube at 10 a.m.

MWD member water agencies that fail to enforce the requirement among its customers will face fines of up to $2,000 per acre-foot of water supplied by MWD that exceeds monthly allocation limits.

The state has already severely restricted supplies from the State Water Project, cutting deliveries to 5% of requested allocations.

Although the MWD’s definition of State Water Project-dependent areas is still in flux, a map provided by the agency indicates the watering restrictions will affect parts of the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys, and western reaches of the county including Woodland Hills, Canoga Park and Calabasas.

Long Beach, like some other areas in Southern California, is not impacted by the restriction. That city also gets Colorado River water from MWD, and has access to reservoirs that are not available to State Water Project-dependent areas.

The Water Commission was scheduled to go to a Stage 2 water emergency, which limits outdoor watering to two days a week year round, at a meeting Thursday morning, April 28, but the meeting was cancelled for lack of a quorum, with two commissioners out with medical issues.

Long Beach currently allows watering three days a week in the summer season. Chris Garner, Long Beach Water Department general manager, said Tuesday that the two-day-a-week restriction will be imposed soon.

Communities operating their own well-water services are likely not to be impacted, too.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last month directed MWD and other water suppliers statewide to ramp up conservation efforts by advancing water-shortage contingency plans

MWD offers a rebate of $2 per square foot for people who replace their grass with water-efficient landscaping. Rebates are also available from other local water agencies.

The rebate program has helped remove 200 million square feet of grass, which has saved enough water to provide about 62,000 homes with water each year, officials said.

City News Service and staff writer Harry Saltzgaver contributed to this report

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