Los Angeles residents and businesses are being urged to conserve water after the winter’s snow supply fell well below normal.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) made the request after finding that the mountain snowpack – which provides substantial drinking water in the state – was 41 per cent of normal levels at the beginning of this month.
LADWP measures snowpack (which collects through the winter and melts into spring and summer) from February to April along the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. The snow melts into the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a conduit that pulls mountain runoff to the city.
Over the past two weeks, snowpack has dropped even further from its already low level — to just 22 per cent of normal amounts.
These sorts of drop-offs are likely to repeat in the coming years as the climate crisis causes increases in heat levels year-round.
Permanent reductions in snowpack would directly imperil California’s drinking water availability, according to the California Department of Water Resources. Snow melt provides “as much as a third” of the state’s water supply.
In order to conserve water, LADWP has so far this year increased the rebates for water-conserving residential appliances and commercial building systems this year. Appliances on the list include everything from laundry machines to rain barrels to high-efficiency toilets.
The agency also points residents to other restrictions on water in the city, including regulations on outdoor watering of gardens and yards.
The water and power department also has rebates for people who take our their lawns and replace with sustainable and drought-tolerant landscaping.
Water issues in California are part of a larger water crisis across the western United States, with the region remaining in the grip of a years-long megadrought.