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Despite the Lifting of Some Restrictions, Water Official Says Drought Not Over, Pasadenans Should Conserve

Published on Thursday, March 16, 2023 | 5:27 am

Lake Oroville in Northern California, seen in 2022. The lake, the second biggest reservoir in the state, has seen a remarkable turnaround in water levels this winter, thanks to abundant rainfall. After reaching its lowest level on record in 2021, the reservoir is now over 100 percent of its historic average. [Metropolitan Water District of Southern California]
After a series of storms brought heavy rain and snow to the state’s watershed, boosting supply, Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California Board Member Cynthia Kurtz reminded people to use water wisely, saying drought is not yet over.

The MWD provides Pasadena with about 60% of the city’s water supply.

Tuesday, the MWD Board voted to rescind previous restrictions for six water agencies in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, all of which heavily rely on supplies from the State Water Project (SWP). 

The agency made the move after a series of storms called “atmospheric rivers” had hit California, bringing massive precipitation along with it, alleviating mounting concerns about the years-long drought. 

The affected agencies, covering roughly 6 million people, had previously been ordered to restrict outdoor watering to one day per week, beginning June 1, 2022.

“We’ve got to keep telling people they need to be efficient with water. Just because you step in a puddle and [get] wet up to your knees right now doesn’t mean the drought is over,” Kurtz said at Pasadena’s Municipal Services Committee (MSC) meeting on Tuesday, March 14. “We live in climate where we need to be watching how we manage our water how we use our water at all times.”

Kurtz reported to the MSC that the storm series helped to boost the state’s water supply after years of withering drought. 

“Things have switched dramatically for 2023,” said Kurtz. “We have been told by the State that we have a 35% allocation for water for 2023. We’ll get new numbers next week.”

According to Kurtz, in 2019, Pasadena got 20% water allocations from the SWP, a system of reservoirs, aqueducts and pumping plants that delivers water from northern California to urban and agricultural areas in the south.

From 2020 to 2022, the city got only 5% water allocation from the SWP due to the severe drought.

Kurtz said more increases are expected as more storms are predicted for March. 

“Even at 35 percent allocation we actually will have more supply and demand and we’re looking at putting as much as 120,000 acre feet into storage,” added Kurtz. 

Kurtz also reported that Lake Oroville storage in Butte County, northern California has increased to 179 feet since December 2022, adding 1.68 million acre feet. It started dumping water last Friday.

“Oroville is not full. They are not dumping because they are full, they are dumping because there’s so much water now,” explained Kurtz. “They had so much water that had gone into the reservoir that they were starting to use up the flood control space.”

For more information about Pasasdena’s water conservation efforts, visit:

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