With statewide supplies improving, the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District, the water wholesaler for Southern California, voted Tuesday to end a mandatory use-reduction program it imposed on its 26 member agencies to combat the drought.
The board, however, continued to stress the need for conservation, maintaining a Water Supply Alert that calls for water agencies and customers to continue efforts to reduce their use.
"We join our member agencies and retailers throughout the region in thanking consumers for their continued water-saving efforts in response to the record drought," MWD board chairman Randy Record said. "The fact is that we would not be taking this action Tuesday were it not for the public's support and diligence."
The MWD board last year mandated a 15 percent cut in the amount of water it supplies to its member agencies — only the fourth time in history the wholesaler had taken such a drastic action. Under the order, agencies that exceeded their MWD allocation were forced to pay punitive rates, ranging from $1,480 to $2,960 per acre-foot of water. An acre-foot is roughly the amount of water needed to serve two households for a year.
The action came shortly after Gov. Jerry Brown called for a 25 percent reduction in water use below 2013 levels in response to the region's continuing drought.
In a report to the board Tuesday, MWD staffers noted that the State Water Project had increased water allocations to 60 percent of requests, its highest level in four years. MWD officials also said the agency plans to add water to its storage systems this year following "three consecutive years of withdrawals."
The district expects to store about 400,000 acre-feet of water this year.
"We might be able to breathe a little easier since the severity of the drought has eased, but we all need to hold tight to the smart conservation practices we've adopted, like planting California-friendly landscaping, washing only full loads of laundry, fixing leaks, taking shorter showers and installing water-efficient devices," MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said.
On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order to permanently bans activities such as hosing off sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces; using hoses without shut-off nozzles to wash cars; allowing runoff to occur when watering lawns; and failing to recirculate fountain water.
Urban water suppliers like the Department of Water and Power will also need to provide monthly reports about water use, conservation and enforcement.