Water Conservation & Shortage Stages





Updated 04/21/23

California Drought Status:

Third year of drought delayed by Dec-March precipitation in most of the state:

  • The past 3 years have been the driest in CA history. Nearly all of CA is in a 100% moderate-to-exceptional drought
  • Both evaporative demand and lack of precipitation are drivers of the current drought since it began in Oct 2019
  • Current projections are for a shortage on the Lower Colorado River in 2023; Lake Mead and Lake Powell water levels are nearly 3/4 empty
April 2023 update

California Drought Emergency Declared (updated April 2023)

  • California statewide emergency water regulations adopted in May 2021 went into effect in June 2021. Follow this link for an FAQ on the State's water restrictions.
    • Owners and managers of commercial, industrial, and institutional properties (which includes HOA's) must not use potable water for irrigating non-functional turf. Please see the State's FAQ on what this means.
    • An HOA cannot issue a fine on a homeowner for reducing or eliminating the watering of vegetation of lawns during a state or locally-declared drought emergency (per Civil Code section 4735(c)). HOA's may still apply landscaping rules within the governing documents that establish reasonable design, maintenance, and quality restrictions. (State's HOA FAQ)
  1. Permanent Water Conservation BMPs

The District's Best Management Practices (BMPs) are in effect at all times and are permanent. The following is a summarized list (full text of Ordinance 2021-05-05):

  • Water landscapes during the cooler times of the day, between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. (exceptions for watering with a bucket; a hose with a shutoff nozzle; or with drip irrigation)
  • No irrigation during or after rainfall for 48 hours
  • Limit incidental runoff from irrigation
  • No washing down of impervious surfaces (exception for sanitary hazards)
  • Washing of vehicles permissible with use of hand-held bucket or hand-held hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle
  • Obligation to fix leaks within 7 days
  • Decorative water features must be equipped with a water re-circulating device
  • No installation of single-pass cooling systems
  • No irrigating turf with potable water on public medians
  1. Water Shortage Stages
  2. Stage 1
  3. Stage 2
  4. Stage 3
  5. Stage 4
  6. Stage 5
  7. Stage 6

The following are the stages of water shortage which may be declared by the District's Board of Directors to respond to a water shortage condition. Click each Stage on the left for a summary of the water shortage response actions that may be implemented.

Water Shortage StageWater Shortage ConditionPercent Shortage
Stage 1Water Shortage Warning1 to 10%
Stage 2Moderate Water Shortageup to 20%
Stage 3Significant Water Shortageup to 30%
Stage 4Severe Water Shortageup to 40%
Stage 5Critical Water Shortageup to 50%
Stage 6Emergency Water Shortage
over 50%

The permanent water conservation BMPs that are in effect during normal water supply conditions shall continue to be in effect should a water shortage be declared by the District. These water shortage response actions do not apply to non-potable water users, unless otherwise stated when the District declares a water shortage.

SMWD WSCP Final May 2021 Opens in new window

In May of 2021, the District updated its Water Conservation Ordinance and Water Shortage Contingency Plan. The Water Shortage Contingency Plan provides guidance on what water supply shortage actions the District may implement in the event of a water shortage condition. 

The District's Ordinance 2021-05-05 establishes Permanent Water Conservation Best Management Practices (BMPs) that are in effect at all times in the District's service area. These BMPs are intended to promote water conservation as a permanent way of life and prevent the waste of water, even during years of normal or above normal rainfall and water supply. 

Summarized above are the year-round Water Conservation BMPs as well as the water shortage actions for any given declared water shortage stage. The specific text can be found in the documents on the top right of this page.

SMWD Documents:

Water Shortage Contingency Plan, May 2021

Water Conservation & Water Supply Shortage Program, Ordinance 2021-05-05

Drought Information:

US Drought Monitor: Simple visual of drought conditions

Drought.gov/states/california: Drought conditions from NOAA

State of California's Drought webpage: Hydrologic information & official drought proclamations

Supply Information:

California WATER WATCH: Track the latest water conditions

California Department of Water Resources: Reservoir storage levels to date

Metropolitan Water District Water Supply Conditions Report

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