More water restrictions likely as California pledges to cut use of Colorado River supply
After years of water shortages and record-breaking droughts, as California scrambles to reduce water use, state officials are expected to extend some water restrictions in the Colorado River for the second time in two decades.
The state Board of Equalization is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a request by the California WaterFix for two-year extensions to the restrictions on how much water the state can use from the Colorado River, one of the driest and highest uses of water in the United States.
The Board of Equalization also is expected to consider the recommendation by the state’s Department of Water Resources to implement what it calls a “low-impact water conservation program,” which would shift about 60 percent of the state’s water usage from one source to another, including an estimated 30 percent to the Colorado River.
California was forced to cut water use in part because of drought-driven water shortages that have lasted longer than four years in five of the past six years, from 2012 to 2016, according to The Los Angeles Times analysis.
Some experts say the restrictions now in place may be insufficient to prevent a recurrence of a drought that has become more severe thanks to climate change.
“Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to what California has to do,” said Paul Deutsch, an expert on California water issues at the University of California, Davis.
It’s unclear if the extensions will be enough to make up for the water that California is taking from the Colorado River. “There’s always hope,” Deutsch said.
But even if the restrictions are sufficient, water experts warned, there will likely be other challenges to deal with, such as a growing demand for water that requires more water-using infrastructure, including more dams and reservoirs.
The Trump administration last week began imposing restrictions on the use of water from the Colorado River, which has been at historic lows. California had previously considered such measures in 2012 and 2015, but pulled back amid opposition from environmental groups.
The state Board of