What cities are facing water restrictions as drinking water supplies run low?
Areas of California and New Mexico have introduced water conservation targets to ensure that the supply can satisfy demand during the ‘megadrought’.
The West of the United States is suffering through a ‘megadrought’ which has depleted water reserves and forced local official to introduce new regulations for water use.
Water rights for much of the US were set more than 100 years ago, when water was far more abundant and the demand was less. In California, for example, debate has raged in recent years regarding changes to the water rights system. Many of the senior water rights were set pre-1914, when the permit system was first introduced.
Californian water rights attorney Nathan Metcalf told CNN: “It’s just not really set up to deal with climate change and the changing needs for water both from an environmental standpoint, and then there’s also the rub between agriculture and municipal.”
Officials in New Mexico announce state of emergency
On Friday New Mexico State Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a state of emergency in the city of Las Vegas in the north of the state. The region as suffered a huge number of wildfires already this year and one particularly big incident appears to have affected supplies of drinking water.
A wildfire that burnt through 340,000 acres along the Gallinas River has scattered ash and other debris into the local water supply. La Vegas, New Mexico has a population of around 13,200 people and that river is responsible for 90% of the city’s water supply.
The declaration of a state of emergency is thought to have secured an additional $2.25 million in state funding for local officials to ensure that residents continue to have access to drinking water.
However in the meantime, residents are banned from outdoor watering and refilling private swimming pools. Furthermore restaurants may not serve water unless specifically asked and recycled water must be used in decorative fountains.
Californians face tough water restrictions
At the start of June state officials imposed new water restrictions affecting roughly six million residents in Southern California. The state is suffering through the worst drought in recorded history and tough rules have been in place for two months to help curb use of water.
Since 1 June residents and businesses based in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Venture have all be told to limit outdoor water usage to one or two days per week, or submit to water volume restrictions. All residents in Southern California are urged to slash water usage by 20%-30%.
The water agencies affected by these restrictions are Calleguas Municipal Water District, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Three Valleys Municipal Water District, and Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District.
Early in July Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that unless the state can stick to water conservation targets, his office may be forced to introduce mandatory state-wide restrictions to curb usage.