Los Angeles, California – Amid a once-in-a-millennium prolonged drought fuelled by the climate crisis, one of the largest water distribution agencies in the United States is warning six million California residents to cut back their water usage this summer, or risk dire shortages.
The scale of the restrictions is unprecedented in the history of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 20 million people and has been in operation for nearly a century.
Adel Hagekhalil, the district’s general manager, has asked residents to limit outdoor watering to one day a week so there will be enough water for drinking, cooking and flushing toilets months from now.
“This is real; this is serious and unprecedented,” Hagekhalil told Al Jazeera. “We need to do it, otherwise we don’t have enough water for indoor use, which is the basic health and safety stuff we need every day.”
The district has imposed restrictions before, but not to this extent, he said. “This is the first time we’ve said, we don’t have enough water [from the Sierra Nevadas in northern California] to last us for the rest of the year, unless we cut our usage by 35 percent.”