More water restrictions likely as California pledges to cut use of Colorado River supply

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With the Colorado River in crisis and reservoir levels continuing to decline, California water agencies that depend on the river are planning to significantly reduce their use of water from the river starting next year.

As a result, officials with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California said they plan to endorse mandatory conservation measures next year to begin rationing water for cities and local agencies that supply 19 million people across six counties.

California is entitled to use 4.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water per year, more than any other state. The water flows through canals to farmlands in Imperial and Riverside counties, and to cities from Los Angeles to San Diego.

Four water districts and the state’s Colorado River Board said in a letter to the federal government on Wednesday that they are proposing to reduce water use by up to 400,000 acre-feet per year starting in 2023. That would amount to about 9% of the state’s total water allotment from the river for the next four years, through 2026.

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