The Metropolitan Water District, which serves five Ventura County cities, will consider today adopting a mandatory water rationing program beginning Feb. 1.
The district’s Water Problems Committee decided Monday to recommend the mandatory cutbacks to the district’s 51-member board, district spokesman Bob Gomperz said.
The proposed cutbacks would require a 5% reduction in water use for residential and industrial customers and a 20% cut for agricultural users in Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, Camarillo and Oxnard.
It was not clear Monday if the mandatory cuts would be on top of those already achieved through voluntary measures. That is one of several issues that will be addressed by the district board today in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Water District and city officials said.
The mandatory cuts are being proposed for all cities and water agencies supplied by the Metropolitan Water District, the source of water for 15 million Southern Californians.
Cities served by the district would have to implement their own mandatory-rationing ordinances to comply with the cutbacks, Gomperz said.
He said the committee’s recommendation was based on reports that it received regarding the district’s two sources of water--Northern California rivers and the Colorado River--being depleted by the drought, now entering its fifth year.
The state Department of Water Resources, which ships Northern California water south, has informed the district that it expects a 15% reduction in supplies next year, Gomperz said. The Federal Bureau of Reclamation, which regulates the Colorado River, said it is expecting a 25% reduction in water supplies in 1991.
“We’ve had four dry years and another consecutive year is going to make things extremely difficult,” Gomperz said. “We need to have our conservation program in line before we get to the high water demands in the summer.”
The Metropolitan Water District supplies the Calleguas Municipal Water District, which distributes the water to the five Ventura County cities that would be affected.
The goal is to reduce the demand on the district’s water supply next year by about 260,000 acre-feet or 10%, Gomperz said. An acre-foot of water is about the amount used by a family of four in one year.
Officials of the five cities that depend on the water district for all or part of their city water supplies said they will comply with the request, but it may be difficult for some.
“We were all expecting it,” Thousand Oaks Mayor Frank Schillo said. “We were just hoping it would come a little later.”
Schillo said the City Council approved a mandatory water conservation ordinance two months ago but has not implemented it. He said for the past year that the city has urged its residents to voluntarily conserve and that the city had already experienced an 8% reduction in water usage over the previous year.
“We’ll be ready on time,” should the city be required to implement a mandatory water-saving ordinance by Feb. 1, he said.
Camarillo Councilman David Smith said his city has already implemented some mandatory measures, such as not allowing residents to water their lawns between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. He said a recent staff report showed that the city had reduced its water consumption by 8.8% over last year.
However, he said that if the city is required to make further cutbacks, it will be difficult to manage.
“If we have to make a 5% cut after we made nearly a 10% cut, that’s not going to be easy,” he said.
Michael Kleinbrodt, deputy director of public works in Simi Valley, said the city drafted a mandatory water conservation ordinance in June, but the City Council ordered that it be revised. He said it will be difficult to draft and implement a new ordinance by Feb. 1.
Mayor Greg Stratton said the city may have no choice but to “speed up the ordinance.” But Stratton said the city will have to wait and see if the cutbacks will be in addition to the voluntary reductions that have already taken place.
“That’s kind of fuzzy right now,” he said, adding “All this wonderful weather is starting to look pretty bleak.”
In addition to Ventura County, the Metropolitan Water District provides water service to Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.
In Ventura County, the Metropolitan Water District’s largest customer is the Calleguas Water District, which supplies water to cities in the eastern county. Calleguas supplies water used by Simi Valley, Moorpark and Thousand Oaks. It supplies half of Camarillo’s water and about two-thirds of Oxnard’s water. Oxnard draws the final third from ground water beneath the Oxnard Plain.