Environment & Science

Metropolitan Water District ends drought cutbacks

The MWD Headquarters lobby.
The MWD Headquarters lobby.
Karen Foshay/KPCC

Southern California's water wholesaler for cities and districts serving 19 million people will see water deliveries restored to their previous levels in another sign that the state's deep drought is easing.

The Metropolitan Water District, which sells imported water to more than two dozen local agencies including Los Angeles, last year slashed regional deliveries by 15 percent.

On Tuesday, 10 months after the cuts took effect, the MWD voted to rescind them.

"We would not be taking this action today were it not for the public's support and diligence," board Chairman Randy Record said in a statement.

The revised plan still calls for conservation.

"Sustaining wise water use remains as essential as ever," Record said.

At the state level, members of the Water Resources Control Board — czars of the state's drought emergency program — will decide May 18 whether to remove their own 11-month-old order for mandatory water use cuts. The conservation effort required at least 20 percent water conservation overall by most of the water districts serving California's nearly 40 million people.

The moves come after winter rains and snows have begun to help ease the state's five-year drought.

In Southern California, the recent cutbacks were the fourth time in the MWD's history that wholesale water deliveries had been curtailed. Cities that wanted to purchase more water in the past 10 months had to pay stiff penalties — up to four times the normal price — for extra deliveries.

Funds collected from the penalties went toward Metropolitan's turf removal program or other conservation or demand-reducing programs.