L.A. is conserving water at record levels, but it’s not enough as drought worsens, according to the California Department of Water Resources. (Jae S. Lee/The Seattle Times)
By David Schwartz
It’s been nearly a week since the most severe water shortage in the history of the U.S. was declared a state of emergency.
And yet, less than three months later, Los Angeles is struggling to keep up with a severe water shortage that has worsened considerably since then.
The region, which has experienced an unprecedented drought that has left nearly two-thirds of residents without running water, is currently dealing with its largest water use since the state of emergency was declared.
And even before the state declared an emergency, the region was facing a drought that has left the Los Angeles Basin with more than a quarter of its water use from just 20 days of supply this year. This has been accomplished despite the fact that the region, home to 20 million people, receives a massive influx of rain from the Pacific Ocean.
“It’s an anomaly…. We really don’t have anything like this,” said Bill Masse, a hydrologist with the city of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The drought has also led to record low snowfall. The average snowpack in the North Olympic Peninsula this winter has been about 65 percent of normal levels.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not having a major impact.
The water shortage is affecting just about every facet of Los Angeles. More than half the residents use water connected to a city water system, which means they can no longer take advantage of its other water services, such as parks and recreation.
The water shortage has also put a strain on the region’s water infrastructure, leading to long lines and water shutoffs that have pushed up prices.
“We have a water supply shortage of such magnitude that it is impacting every single city, everywhere in the region,” said Matt Beatty, chief of staff for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti