LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Cities and water districts serving 19 million people in Southern California face smaller water deliveries this summer under a plan approved by the region’s water wholesaler in response to ongoing dry conditions.

The Metropolitan Water District, which supplies water to more than two dozen agencies, voted Tuesday to slash regional water deliveries by 15 percent as California grapples with a fourth year of drought.

The water cutbacks, which take effect in July, would likely spur communities to step up their conservation efforts to avoid paying for high-priced water beyond the allotted amount.

Cities and agencies that use more than their MWD allocation would have to pay punitive costs ranging from $1,480 to $2,960 per acre-foot of water, according to officials. An acre-foot is roughly the amount of water needed to serve two households for a year.

The water district’s officials say limiting supplies could help cities meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandate to cut urban water use by 25 percent compared with 2013 levels.

MWD officials acknowledged it was only the third time in the agency’s history that it has taken such an action.

“Southern California has led the way in water conservation for more than 20 years, and now we’re asking people to do significantly more,” said Randy Record, chairman of the MWD board. “We know it will be difficult, but we’re in an unprecedented drought.”

The board agreed to revisit the issue in December and evaluate the situation.

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