Central Valley faces water restrictions, Bakersfield not affected yet

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Many cities in the Central Valley are considering, or have already placed residents on mandatory water restrictions.

Those restrictions are in place to limit water use to help eliminate waste.

The city of Visalia has been at what is called stage 3 water restrictions since 1991 and are considering going to stage 4, which would place more severe restrictions on residents.

The city of Wasco is at stage 2 and recently announced mandatory restrictions for residents beginning in March.

Many cities in the Central Valley rely on reservoir water provided through Federal resources.

Kern County officials remain concerned about the recent drought, but the county has never had mandatory restrictions for residents on record.

According to the Bakersfield Water Resource Agency, Kern County is very fortunate to have a more than sufficient water supply. The water banking system currently has more then enough water to get through several years of drought.

The Bakersfield Water Resource Agency is in continual contact with city staff to share the most updated information about water levels in the banking system.

Residents could be subject to mandatory water restrictions down the road if the banked water levels drop.

According to the Bakersfield Water Resources Department we are not in danger of that happening for several years.

Ultimately city leaders would make the decision to impose mandatory restrictions based on recommendations from city staff.

The success of the banking system is due in part to Bakersfield water rights from the Kern River.

The water banking system has more than 220,000 acre feet available and the city only needs about 30,000 acre feet per year for residential use.

However, city officials say they are not throwing caution to the wind. City council member Russell Johnson from Ward 7 is sponsoring an upcoming Urban Water Purveyors Forum.

"Residents in the greater Bakersfield metropolitan area need to be water wise as our state and local community faces the current drought. Every drop counts, and urban water users can be a part of the solution," said Johnson.

The forum will bring city leaders and water agency officials together.

The goal of the upcoming meeting scheduled for March 13 is to begin a conversation and come up with long-term solutions.

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