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Southern California orders "unprecedented" water restrictions in Los Angeles area

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Since you can never have too many declared states of emergency and the entire COVID thing is falling out of fashion, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California took what’s being described as an “unprecedented step” yesterday. They declared a water shortage emergency covering parts of three counties in the greater Los Angeles area. Water is so scarce now that “outdoor water usage” (watering lawns, washing cars, etc.) will be restricted to only one day a week. The restrictions are not scheduled to begin until June 1st for some reason, though the water shortages are already upon them today. But the reality is that they simply don’t have enough water for the number of people they need to supply and they are beginning to run dry the sources they have depended on for water importation in the past. Perhaps it’s time for the residents of this area to have someone hit them with some “real talk” as the kids these days like to say. (LA Times)

Southern California officials on Tuesday took the unprecedented step of declaring a water shortage emergency and ordering outdoor usage be restricted to just one day a week for about 6 million people in parts of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties.

The outdoor watering restrictions will take effect June 1 under the decision by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and will apply to areas that depend on water from the drought-ravaged State Water Project.

“We are seeing conditions unlike anything we have seen before,” said Adel Hagekhalil, the district’s general manager. “We need serious demand reductions.”

Southern California is going through a drought that is stretching into its third year, but that region never has that much water in the best of times. It’s easy enough to point a finger and blame this on climate change (and they are already doing that very loudly), but almost all areas go through droughts from time to time. That even applies to places that normally see a lot of rainfall. Ever heard of the dust bowl? Of course that was probably also caused by climate change driven by some secret Native American fracking program they never told us about.

If there is one message that California officials should be delivering to residents of this region, it should begin with five simple words. You live in a desert. Stop and take a look at a satellite image of the southern part of your state. Up to the north and further toward the mountains you can see lots of pleasant green areas and even some forests. But do you see all of those brown areas down around Los Angeles? That’s called sand. If you leave L.A. and drive a little more than 100 miles to the northeast, you will be in a place that is literally named Death Valley.

Back when the state was still being settled and there weren’t nearly as many people there, the water situation wasn’t that much of an issue. But as the population began to explode, California had to begin the State Water Project in 1960. In some ways, it was very impressive. It was an engineering marvel and a testament to man’s ingenuity. Dozens of dams and reservoirs feed more than 700 miles of canals. But it was all done to feed increasingly massive amounts of water to places where water did not naturally flow. And now you’re burning through everyone else’s water and the rivers are drying up. Because – again – you live in a desert.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. There are people who live in deserts all over the world. The problem is that the people of California have never adapted the lifestyle of actual desert dwellers. They showed up from places further east and wanted their new home to look like their old homes. So they began pumping in water and planting laws made of grass that never grew there naturally. They created huge stretches of farmland growing crops there were imported from wetter climes. All of those lawns and crops and carwashes and residential homes began burning through water like there was an endless supply of it. But the supply did have an end and you’re getting close to it.

What the MWD is doing now is a short-term step that will do nothing to reduce the underlying causes of this water shortage. There are simply far, far too many people in Southern California who are using too much water. So let’s have everyone get together and make some tough decisions. Either start living like people who have actually adapted to living in deserts or move. To paraphrase some advice from legendary social commentator Sam Kinnison, ‘get all your stuff together. Grab your luggage. We’ll bring some trucks and we’ll take you to where the water is.’

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