Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding California’s Water Supply status.
What is a drought?
A drought is defined as a prolonged period with less-than-average amounts of rain or snow in a region. Drought severity is calculated from the amount of time that the region receives below-average precipitation. Variable climate in Southern California has become the norm. During previous times of drought, California residents have successfully used water efficiently, and have adopted a water-smart lifestyle even during normal to wet years. For more information regarding current drought status, visit drought.gov/states/California.
Is Southern California Under Mandatory Outdoor Watering Restrictions?
Parts of Southern California are under mandatory outdoor watering restrictions, however EMWD’s service area is NOT one of those areas.
In April 2022, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) took the unprecedented step of adopting mandatory outdoor watering restrictions for portions of its service area most heavily dependent on State Water Project water. Because EMWD has access to the Colorado River Aqueduct system, water stored in Diamond Valley Lake, and local supplies, it is not under this order.
For Commercial, Institutional and Industrial customers, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted regulations on May 24, 2022, that prohibits the irrigation of non-functional (ornamental) turf using potable water.
However, EMWD is asking customers to remain within their water budgets and focus their efficiency efforts on outdoor irrigation.
What is the current drought situation in the State?
On October 19, 2021, Governor Newsom expanded his existing drought declaration covering all of northern and central California to include all the counties in Southern California, including Riverside County. With this action, all of California is now under a formal drought declaration.
The drought has been especially challenging on the State Water Project (SWP) system. Many SWP reservoirs are at or near record low storage levels due to decreased runoff from rising temperatures and dry conditions. EMWD receives a portion of its imported water from the SWP system, which is currently stored by The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California in Diamond Valley Lake.
The Colorado River system, which supplies a portion of the water EMWD receives from MWD, has also been hit hard by the ongoing drought and is experiencing record-lows at both Lake Powell and Lake Mead. It is anticipated that water deliveries from the Colorado River system will be cut off in the coming months.
The state has asked residents for a voluntary 15 percent reduction in water use when compared to 2020 usage.
EMWD’s current drought stage information can be found here.
How is EMWD preparing for these periods?
Water providers in the Inland Empire and across the State continually and proactively strive to use water efficiently and invest in projects to maximize water quality and supply. EMWD plans ahead for investments that reduce impacts of prolonged dry periods. By investing before dry conditions begin, your water supply is protected during variable weather periods. Customers, water providers and policy makers are at the front lines of water use efficiency and have supported investments in water supply resiliency across the region.
Is the availability and quality of my water the same during times of drought?
Yes, EMWD works diligently in both wet and dry years to provide high-quality water to your tap each day. Water providers prepare supplies for times of drought while meeting or exceeding State and Federal water quality guidelines, ensuring you have access to this essential resource when and where you need it.
Should I be using water efficiently?
Yes! During both wet and dry years, we encourage customers to use
this resource wisely. Your water travels a long journey to your
tap, and each drop counts to keep supplies ample for times of
greater need. Individual water use efficiency coupled with
investments and programs by water providers keep our region
well-prepared, no matter the conditions. To learn more about
efficiency measures including tips, rebates and more, visit the
What water-use restrictions are currently in place? Are there penalties for using too much water?
We like to say that water use efficiency is a way of life living in the Inland Empire. We support common-sense water-use practices that many of our customers already implement in their day-to-day lives. In addition to these practices, we have established permanent water use efficiency requirements (www.emwd.org/water-use-efficiency-requirements) and a phased Water Shortage Contingency Plan (www.emwd.org/water-shortage-contingency-plan) to respond to drought conditions .
EMWD is currently in Stage 3a of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan, which asks customers to voluntarily reduce use by up to 25 percent. Stage 3a also suspends variances for filling of pools and establishing new landscapes.
Why is new development permitted during a drought?
A: Perhaps one of the most common questions EMWD is asked during droughts is about the development of new homes and businesses. There are several factors that go into answering that question:
- EMWD is not a land use agency. Our role is to accommodate and find ways to provide water and wastewater service to the development activities deemed appropriate by the local land use agencies, which are the respective cities within EMWD’s service area and the County of Riverside. EMWD is responsible for studying the General Plans of land use agencies to ensure we have the infrastructure needed to meet the long-term water supply needs of current and anticipated customers. Our Urban Water Management Plan provides detailed information about EMWD’s water demand, supply and reliability for the next 25 years.
- EMWD has a sophisticated system in place in which new development helps create new water supply sources to meet their own needs. When new homes or businesses are constructed, they pay Financial Participation Charges (FPC) that help fund infrastructure expansion. This includes projects such as our new Perris II Desalination complex, our Mountain Avenue West Groundwater Replenishment Facility, the Perris North Groundwater Program[CA1] , and much more. All these projects are funded in-part by FPCs and help us create new local water supply sources so that new development is not “taking” from existing homes and businesses, but instead helping to expand our supplies.
- New development is also required to have more efficient plumbing fixtures, drought-tolerant landscaping in front yards, and water budgets that are up to 30 percent lower than older homes. The result is that newer homes are designed to be more efficient than older ones.
- EMWD understands that dry conditions are cyclical in nature and a part of living in an arid climate. Because EMWD has proactively planned for long-term growth in its service area and developed the resources to meet those needs, we are prepared to meet both existing and future needs.
Where does my water come from? Does my water source change during dry conditions?
Your water comes from a range of sources, but it is made up of a blend of supplies from the Colorado River, Northern California, and local sources. During dry years, local water supplies become especially important as imported sources may be limited. Water providers across the Inland Empire proactively invest and prepare for dry years and invest in projects that maximize use of local water supplies. To learn more about how EMWD is preparing for times of drought, visit www.emwd.org/water-supply.
Where can I stay up to date on steps to address drought in the Inland Empire?
EMWD anticipates cycles of dry conditions and has prepared to
maintain a diverse and high-quality water portfolio through any
climate. Visit EMWD’s website for more information on our
investments and actions to address dry conditions.
Want to Learn Even More? Additional Links and Resources
EMWD has provided a section on its website filled with tips and a
toolbox of ideas for using water
wisely. Customers are encouraged to visit and learn more
about water saving programs and rebates.
Landscapes for Living
Waterwise Landscape Toolbox
Waterwise Programs and Rebates
100 Ways to Conserve Water
For Kids: California Drought
Where Does Your Water Come From?