Residents of southern California having endured some of the most stringent pandemic rules are now faced with draconian water restrictions due to the state’s severe drought.
The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, just north of Los Angeles, has taken some of the most drastic measures.
Some high-profile celebrities who own property in the area — like Sylvester Stallone, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Hart, and Kim and Kourtney Kardashian — have made headlines for using far in excess of their water allotments, The Los Angeles Times reported.
They are among the 2,000 customers who have received “notices of exceedance” issued when the household has surpassed 150 percent of its monthly water budget at least four times since the water district declared a drought emergency late last year.
“Their properties are now subject to the installation of flow restrictor devices, which can reduce showers to a trickle and silence lawn sprinklers,” according to the Times.
An employee with the water district told CNN the restrictor reduces water flow into the house from 25-30 gallons a minute down to 1 gallon.
Residents are only allowed to water their properties on one designated day a week — and for only eight minutes per sprinkler.
CNN’s Stephanie Elam did a ride along with the “water police” enforcing the restrictions.
With the lack of water entering California, residents are restricted on the amount of water they can consume. The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District is on the lookout for anyone breaking those rules. CNN’s Stephanie Elam rides along with the “water police.” pic.twitter.com/By5VlysIgs
— CNN (@CNN) August 26, 2022
Mike McNutt — director of public affairs for the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District — told Elam celebrities who have violated the water rules are working with his office to get in compliance.
CNN reported the district’s water supply comes in part from snowpack runoff from the Sierra Nevadas in northern California. Unfortunately, there was significantly less snow than normal last winter.
The result is that the district is receiving only 5 percent of the water it requested from the California States Water Project this year.
“As of Aug 23, state reservoirs stand at about 42% of capacity. That’s below the 30-year average of 60% for the month of August,” according to the Times.
Lake Shasta, the state’s largest reservoir, located south of the Oregon – California state line, is at 35 percent capacity. Meanwhile, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the country’s largest reservoirs, located in neighboring Nevada and Utah, are at 28 percent and 25 percent capacity respectively.
These lakes hold a significant amount of Colorado River water, which is used in southern California.
The full Colorado River system supplies water to 40 million people in seven western states as well as Mexico, and irrigates more than 5 million acres of farmland from Wyoming to the Gulf of California.https://t.co/4AzukYTuaf
— Mike Huck (@IrrTurfSvcs) July 19, 2022
California Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle — a candidate for governor whose district is in the northern part of the Golden State — says the current water shortages are due to poor water management.
“The sad truth is that California has allowed trillions of gallons of precipitation to run into the Pacific Ocean during these last two years. Now, water districts and cities throughout our state are beginning to implement mandatory water rationing measures,” the farmer and businessman wrote in October.
“If it were managed properly, California receives enough rain and snow to serve its 40 million residents and 4 million acres of farmland for several years,” Dahle added.
He pointed out that Californians have voted multiple times since 1996 to upgrade their water infrastructure and improve their storage capacity, but the projects have remained tied up for years due to environmental impact studies and other regulatory roadblocks.
Had even some of the proposals been greenlit, the state would be in a much better place.
“At one time in our history, California’s water system was state of the art, and admired around the world. It drove an economic engine that allowed our state to thrive and grow, bringing prosperity never before seen on earth,” Dahle wrote. “Sadly, the neglect shown over the last 40 years threatens to end this ‘Golden’ era.”
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