More than six million California residents were placed on strict new water restrictions on Wednesday as the US state took unprecedented conservation measures.
The new rules from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will limit outdoor watering to one day per week in parts of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties. Officials said those not complying with the water restrictions will first receive a warning and then escalating fines.
“We don’t have enough water supplies right now to meet normal demand. The water is not there,” district representative Rebecca Kimitch said in April.
“This is unprecedented territory. We've never done anything like this before."
All outdoor watering could be banned in those communities by September if not enough water is conserved by then, agency officials said. California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state could also be forced to impose similar restrictions.
Mr Newsom enacted an executive order last month requiring Southern Californians to conserve 20 to 30 per cent of their water.
The agency's latest rules will be enforced by member agencies that receive water from the State Water Project.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Metropolitan's largest agency, will limit nearly everyone in Los Angeles to watering two days a week for eight minutes each day, or 15 minutes with sprinklers fashioned with water-saving nozzles, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Watering days will be assigned to residents in Los Angeles based on their addresses, and no watering will be permitted between the times of 9am and 4pm.
The drastic effort to conserve water comes after the state experienced the three driest months in its history at the start of the year.
Recent data from the US Drought Monitor shows that 76 per cent of the US West is experiencing severe to exceptional drought. And Lake Mead, from which California receives much of its water, is at its lowest level in decades.