LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Southern California’s largest supplier of water, the Metropolitan Water District, which provides water for 19 million people, declared a “Water Supply Alert” Tuesday in light of California’s historic drought.
The district is asking residents across their 5,200-square-mile service area to cut their water use by 20 percent, as electronic drought signs begin to appear along California freeways.
The drought has reached proportions that are causing worries in other parts of the nation. President Obama is planning to visit Fresno on Friday to talk about federal drought relief with an emphasis for Central Valley farmers, who are perhaps feeling the effects worse than anyone in the state.
“I think there are things we can do as far as the timing of any deliveries that we might get from Northern California,” Metropolitan Water District’s Bob Muir said. “Backing off (on water usage) until later in the year, and making that water available to other parts of the state; primarily agriculture.”
Meanwhile, Southland water officials are exploring additional ways in which they can assist other parts of the state by possibly moving water from the Colorado River to those locations in Southern California that don’t normally get that water, including as far as Ventura County.
“I believe that we’re facing a situation where some farmers are going to go bankrupt, and they’re going to lose their farms,” Executive Director of the California Farm and Water Coalition Mike Wade said.
Wade said a federal drought bill recently introduced by California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer may provide some assistance for farmers in the meantime.
The bill proposes to make free some water for farmers and ranchers by creating more flexibility on environmental laws.
“To work with California officials and to work within the limits of the law, to the most flexibility that they have to provide the maximum amount of water,” Wade said. “The bill essentially directs federal agencies to provide water when they can.”
The race for the prospective governorship of California is now turning its eyes to policies surrounding the drought, and one Republican challenger is speaking out against Gov. Brown’s policies, suggesting the state spend infrastructure funds on moving water instead of the high speed rail.
“We ought to end the high speed rail and we ought to go back to the people and ask permission to use that funding and actually build infrastructure we need,” State Assemblyman and candidate for governor Tim Donnelly said.
The proposed drought bill will be pushed hard towards the senate, before having to be reconciled in a conference committee, passed by republicans.