Millions of Californians are set to face biting water restrictions that will affect residents across the US's most populous state as it battles a drought now on its third year.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which is responsible for the Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties, announced on Tuesday that it will limit the area's 6 million residents to watering outdoors just one day per week as the state grapples with warmer temperatures.
About one-third of the region is facing an emergency due to "severely limited" water supplies in northern California, which has traditionally served as a main resource for the water-starved south. But climate change has greatly impacted the state's status quo.
Snow pack has been particularly limited in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the state just recorded its driest three-month start to any year on record. Water levels have also hit record lows in the Colorado River, another major waterway for California's populous south.
"The past three years are projected to be the driest in our state's history, leading to drought conditions unlike anything we've experienced before," the agency said on Twitter.
The record low water levels and above-average temperatures continue to stoke fears ahead of this year's wildfire season.
Further north, the East Bay Municipal Utility District voted on Tuesday to increase the region's water emergency level for some 1.4 million residents following California's "bleak" snow survey and "very low" precipitation over the past winter.
That means residents will have to reduce water consumption by 10%, limit outdoor watering to three times per week, and restaurants and cafes are being mandated to only provide water on request. The new emergency level also establishes fines for the area's largest water wasters who exceed a threshold of 1,646 gallons of water per day.
Those households will receive a $2 fine per every 748 gallons over the threshold.
"Despite a strong rainy start in October and December, the dry winter has compelled us to move into our next phase of action to ensure we have adequate supplies in case the drought continues next year,” Board President Douglas Linney said in a statement.
“We've spent decades planning and preparing for these events and are confident our efforts, combined with customer water savings, will get us through this drought," he added./aa