“For the summer, we have half the water that we need right now in these communities,” said Rebecca Kimitch, program manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
The new restrictions must be implemented by June 1, with water district member agencies expected to enforce them, Kimitch said. Some 6 million people live in the affected areas and rely on water piped down from Northern California.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power – which has had watering restrictions for more than a decade – will work with water district and city officials as the emergency drought regulations are finalized, it said, adding residential water use in its zone already is 111 gallons per day, among the lowest in the region.
“Additional water use restrictions should be balanced against the high level of conservation that has already been achieved by … customers. Conserving water must be accomplished region wide,” the agency told CNN in a statement.
Snowpack suffers severe decline
While parts of California got record snow late last year, it was not enough to alleviate the dire drought conditions.
That decrease has been showing up in a decline of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, which was just 38% of normal this winter.
Snow usually builds up in the Sierra Nevada throughout the winter, storing water that later melts and flows into reservoirs in the spring. Snowpack provides 30% of California’s water, according to the state Department of Water Resources.
South of Lake Tahoe, at Phillips Station, snow depth was 2.5 inches on April 1, compared to that day’s average depth there of 66.5 inches, official said. That meager snow depth amounts to 1 inch of water content – a mere 4% of average for April 1, said Sean de Guzman, an engineer with the department.
CNN’s Rachel Ramirez contributed to this report.