Newsom orders stricter water restrictions amid ongoing drought

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Gov. Gavin Newsom (Photo credit: Office of the California Governor)

As California enters its third year of severe drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom orders water agencies to tighten water conservation rules—the most pervasive, statewide water restriction order since California’s last severe drought in 2016.

Newsom’s new restrictions require the state’s approximately 420 largest water providers, including cities, water districts and private water companies, to put in place “level 2” of their water shortage contingency plans. Water providers are required to draft drought plans every five years with six different levels of restrictions depending on the severity of each drought—level 6 being the strictest.  

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) applauded the state action.

“Although EBMUD ended 2021 at about 150 percent of average precipitation in the Mokelumne River Watershed, which is the source of most of the East Bay’s water supplies, EBMUD will finish the month of March with only a total of 2.5 inches since January – the driest first three months of the year in EBMUD’s history,” the district said.

To date, EBMUD has asked its customers to voluntarily conserve 10 percent; conservation stands at 7 percent cumulatively compared to last year, the district added. With dry seasons ahead, the district will ask customers to increase their conservation habits.

On April 26, the EBMUD Board of Directors will review its water supply projections for the year and its drought restrictions pursuant to the governor’s order.

According to the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), 93.7 percent of California is currently experiencing severe drought.