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Drought prompting new water use restrictions for hundreds of thousands of people on South Coast

Victor Furtuna
The drought is prompting the Metropolitan Water District to notify water agencies it supplies in Ventura County that they will get less water, and that they will need to impose outdoor water limitations on customers.

Shortfall in State Water Project supplies mean limits will be placed on outdoor watering.

It’s a familiar sound. It’s the sound of a lawn sprinkler. But, officials with some water agencies on the South Coast say it’s a sound we should be hearing less often this spring, and summer.

A district which supplies state water to much of Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties announced that the drought is forcing some major cuts in how water can be used.

"The action taken by the Metropolitan Water District was to enact an emergency water conservation program, for its State Water project dependent areas, to immediately adopt a one-day-a-week watering restriction," said Dan Drugan, the Manager of Resources for the Calleguas Municipal Water District.

It's a middleman for much of Ventura County for water from the state project, getting it from the MWD and passing it on it to local agencies in the county.

Drugan says it will be the water agencies, that actually get the water to people’s taps, who will decide exactly how to implement the watering restrictions. They could use alternative approaches to achieve the water use reductions.

The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, which serves communities on the Ventura/Los Angeles County line, is even more impacted, because it its completely reliant on the state water.

The District’s Board has to decide how it will implement the restrictions, but it could be like it did in 2015.

"We would be hiring assistants for going on patrols to make sure that people are watering when they are supposed to," said Mike McNutt, with the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District.

Those involved with the region’s water supply say the public hears the word “drought” but doesn’t realize how badly the state water supply has been impacted this season.

McNutt said it’s hard to get through to some people after everyone’s heard the word “drought” for so many years.

"There is definitely something I call drought fatigue," said McNutt. "The word drought has become so normalized in our State of California that every time we say we're in a drought, people are like...oh big deal."

He said the urgency is gone. "This is urgent...this is different," McNutt added.

Water conservation officials say it’s also a good time for customers with lawns to investigate what types of rebate programs might be available to help replace them, or reduce their size with drought-resistant landscaping.