The Metropolitan Water District's board today approved a multimillion dollar campaign to promote awareness of the state's drought emergency and encourage water conservation.
The MWD will spend up to $5.5 million annually on a three-year effort using radio, television, print, online and outdoor ads, together with community outreach, to educate Californians on how to reduce their water use.
"While there are no supply restrictions planned in Southern California this year, the unprecedented dry conditions throughout the state serve as a stark reminder that we all have a responsibility to do more with less," said MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger.
Gov. Jerry Brown, who declared a drought emergency in January, has set of goal of reducing water use statewide by 20 percent.
MWD officials plan a rapid rollout of new ads and expect to see nearly immediate cuts in water use.
"Southern Californians have stepped up to the plate and made extensive regional investments over the past 20 years to diversify supplies and solidify water reliability, but there is no doubt the current drought is a call to re- double our conservation efforts," Kightlinger said.
Last month, the board doubled its overall budget for conservation and public outreach from $20 million to $40 million.
The district covers a 5,200-square-mile service area that includes 26 cities and water agencies and serves nearly 19 million people in six Southern California counties.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors also focused on the region's water supply today, voting to expedite stormwater capture projects. In addition to pushing ahead on planned construction, the board directed the Department of Public Works to coordinate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal and state agencies to optimize stormwater retention.
Water captured and recycled in the county's system of 14 major dams, reservoirs and debris dams -- mainly along the San Gabriel River -- provides about one third of the region's drinking water supply, according to Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
That supply is threatened not only by drought, but by regulatory requirements that slow construction of infrastructure improvements. Sediment runoff into county reservoirs after recent fires has also cut storage capacity.
"The current drought is a reminder that we must continue to do everything we can to conserve stormwater and make every drop count," Antonovich said.
The state has authorized $500 million in emergency relief to fund infrastructure projects aimed at increasing water supplies statewide.
--City News Service