While recent rain has been good for Southern California, the Colorado River is still reeling from the effects of a 23-year mega drought, and a multi-state battle about what to do with the dwindling water supply is gearing up.
Hidden inside the Anaheim Hills community is a reservoir filled with water that comes from the Colorado River, roughly 200 miles away.
“So, we will import water from the Colorado River. We will keep it here and then it will ultimately go into circulation in this area and throughout our city,” Mike Lyster, with the City of Anaheim, said.
Some residents in Anaheim are among the millions of Southern Californians who rely on water from the Colorado River, but for decades water from the river has been spread way too thin by the seven states that use it.
The federal government has told the seven states to come up with an agreement to cut the amount of water being used.
Six of the states did, but California refused to sign on, saying the cuts unfairly target the Golden State.
“The cuts are left disproportionately to California, which is, frankly, not fair in this situation,” Wade Crowfoot, California secretary of natural resources, said.
He says that California has presented its own plan for cuts, which he agrees are desperately needed.
“Our goal is to agree upon cuts and to take action as quickly as possible because the sooner we do, the more we can avoid what could be a worst-case scenario,” Crowfoot said.
As that battle plays out, the Metropolitan Water District, which transports the Colorado River water to Southern California, is urging everyone to prepare for a drier future.
“Lake Mead is at 25%. It could take years and years for that to be refilled, if that ever gets refilled,” MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said. “So, every drop is valuable. So, if we do our job and conserve, we can save water that we will use when we have dry…conditions in the system, and we only can do it together.”
Those competing proposals are in the hands of the federal government, which is expected to announce a decision on what cuts it expects the different states to make later this year.
As for Anaheim, they’re sitting prettier than many other communities since they don’t rely solely on the Colorado River for water. Anaheim, and some other communities in north Orange County, have a large underground aquifer it can tap into as well.