‘A real urgency’ for water conservation

GET WORD OUT: Regional officials want to inform people that a drought has thinned supplies.

Riverside Press Enterprise – By JENNIFER BOWLES

Regional water officials on Tuesday approved spending an unprecedented $6.3 million over the next year to expand a campaign aimed at convincing Southern Californians to conserve at their taps and outside hoses.

The vote by the Metropolitan Water District board signifies the extent of the region’s dire water situation.

The state shut down pumps that provide Southern California with vast amounts of water less than two weeks ago. In addition, a drought has thinned supplies in the Sierra Nevada, the Colorado River and locally.

“There’s a real urgency. We can’t wait anymore, we really need to be proactive,” said Randy Record, a San Jacinto farmer and Metropolitan board member representing Perris-based Eastern Municipal Water District.

The California Department of Water Resources turned off the pumps at the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta because pools of a federally protected fish are being sucked into the massive system and killed. The state is waiting for the smelt to migrate away from the pumps before turning them back on at full speed, said Sue Sims, a department spokeswoman.

The pumps were turned back on Sunday but only for limited pumping to Northern California counties hit hard by the move.

The Inland region and the rest of Southern California are getting supplies from San Luis Reservoir further south on the aqueduct system, but that is not an indefinite source.

“The clock is ticking on how much longer we can do that,” Sims said.

The Metropolitan campaign, called Let’s Save, started around Memorial Day weekend. The augmented campaign plans to cast a wider net and feature advertising on radio, TV and Web sites that ask people to voluntarily conserve.

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