January 23, 2014
City News Service
With Gov. Jerry Brown’s declaration of a drought emergency on January 17, Los Angeles city officials are urging residents to intensify efforts to conserve water. Brown called an official state of emergency due to an “alarming” dip in state water supplies, with mountain snowpack at 20 percent of where it should be by this time of the year, reservoir water levels unusually low and water flow in the state’s major rivers at reduced levels. Department of Water and Power officials said Los Angeles water supplies should allow the city to “weather” the latest shortage, but they urged their 680,000 water customers to stay vigilant and to take advantage of rebates offered by the utility.
Rebates are available for water efficient appliances and for replacing grass lawns with drought-friendly landscaping, officials said. More information about the programs are at www.ladwp.com/ waterconservation. Brown’s emergency proclamation — which warns that scientific projections predict that California may be headed toward its driest year on record —will allow quicker transfer of water supplies to areas that most need them and speed up the release of funding for water storage projects. State officials also will be required to reduce water usage wherever possible, hire more firefighters and expand water conservation education campaigns.
“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” Brown said.
The governor’s declaration “is an important first step in highlighting the potential severity of this drought on California,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The declaration will in addition create the opportunity to receive federal disaster funding, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein said. Feinstein said she is joining Congressman Jim Costa, D-Fresno, and Sen. Barbara Boxer in urging President Obama to issue a disaster declaration the federal level and “to appoint a drought task force to work with the state to mitigate the drought’s effects on the state.”