(CALMATTERS) – California could enact mandatory statewide water restrictions if local conservation efforts don’t produce the desired results, Newsom warned some of the state’s biggest water suppliers — including the powerful Metropolitan Water District and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power — in a Monday meeting.
The summit came a few months after Newsom ordered local water agencies to ramp up their drought responses starting in June. (Today, state regulators are expected to formally approve that directive, in addition to a ban on businesses and other institutions watering decorative lawns.)
Water agencies called for more local control over conservation during California’s historic drought from 2012 to 2016. But in the Monday meeting, Newsom told them that their current efforts were falling short, urging “more aggressive actions” and more regular reporting of water use data.
He also labeled recent increases in water use “a black eye,” a source in attendance said. California saw a nearly 19% increase in urban water use in March compared to two years ago, despite the deepening drought.
But some water watchers said Newsom, who has threatened statewide water restrictions before, is just trying to pass the buck: He’s “simply continuing to urge local agencies to become more aggressive in their own efforts to cut water use,” said Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank. “This hasn’t worked in the past and continuing on this path is unlikely to be enough.”