Los Angeles Water Utility May Cut Supply 15% as Drought Persists

About 19 million residents and businesses in Southern California may have less water after July 1 as the region’s utility begins rationing for the first time since 2008.

A committee of the Metropolitan Water District board voted Monday to reduce supplies to local cities and utilities by an average of 15 percent, with heavier water users, including Beverly Hills, subject to cuts of 35 percent.

The reductions follow Governor Jerry Brown’s April 1 executive order to reduce water use by 25 percent because of a four-year drought that has depleted major reservoirs to less than 50 percent of capacity and left Sierra Nevada snowpack at 6 percent of the norm.

“This is a statewide emergency,” Metropolitan Water District Executive Director Jeffrey Kightlinger said after the vote. “We want to manage the economic impacts of this. A lot of our economy is based on the usage of water.”

The district’s full board is scheduled to adopt the water curbs Tuesday. The committee, meeting in downtown Los Angeles, rejected the idea of more serious reductions in a 10-4 vote.

Residents and businesses that fail to reduce their water use by the state’s targets will pay surcharges of double to four times the normal rates for water, Kightlinger said.

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