Los Angeles (AFP) - The agency that provides much of southern California's water supply plans to cut deliveries in the region by 15 percent, as the state battles the fourth year of its worst drought on record.
It comes as Governor Jerry Brown has ordered water use to be cut by a quarter in response to the worsening situation in the state, which has a climate that ranges from Mediterranean to desert.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted Tuesday to tighten the spigot on 26 cities and water districts.
This was the fourth time the MWD took such measures in response to the drought conditions. The last time involved a 10 percent cutback from July 2009 to April 2011.
"Southern California has led the way in water conservation for more than 20 years, and now we're asking people to do significantly more," MWD board chairman Randy Record said in a statement.
"We know it will be difficult, but we're in an unprecedented drought."
He noted that per capita water use in the region has dropped 25 percent since 1990, even though five million more people now live in the area.
In addition to the cuts, MWD has budgeted $100 million for rebates and other water-saving incentives to help people in the area conserve water.
The agency has also increased outreach activities to promote consumer awareness and knowledge about how to save water.
The cities and water districts using more water than the amount allocated will be fined.
MWD's cuts are among the first measures to meet Brown's 25 percent reductions order.
His order is also being met by ramping up enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, while investing in technologies designed to make California more drought-resilient.
The order also set out new measures to reduce water use, including the replacement of 50 million square feet (4.6 million square meters) of lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.