The Metropolitan Water District has proposed a 10 percent mandatory reduction in water deliveries to San Diego and other cities throughout Southern California.

The cut, the first since the early 1990s, means that San Diego and other cities here will face a likely cut around 6-7 percent from the San Diego County Water Authority, the wholesaler that supplies the region. The authority gets the majority of its water from Metropolitan, but its own supplies will dilute the cut.

Thanks to a winter that was almost as wet as normal, the recommended cut comes in at the low end of what was possible. It’s likely to prompt a region-wide discussion about how to achieve the target. Told to voluntarily conserve 10 percent last year, the region saved 5 percent. That’s close to what will be needed going forward.

But water suppliers throughout the region will have to weigh the risk they face if residents fail to meet the target. If they exceed their allocations, they’d pay the water authority penalty rates between two and four times the normal cost of water — and they would not have any way to recoup those losses. A mandatory declaration would require cities throughout the region to implement water-reduction strategies that would allow them to penalize residents who exceed a certain water use threshold.

Metropolitan’s board meets Tuesday at noon to discuss the reduction. It would go into effect July 1.


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