Water Shortage and Drought Response Plan

To prudently manage water supplies during shortages, in 2006 the Water Authority and its member agencies developed and approved the Drought Management Plan, which is now called the Water Shortage and Drought Response Plan. Most recently, this plan was activated by the Water Authority in May 2007 and deactivated in April 2011. In 2012, the Water Authority and its member agencies used lessons from the prior drought to update the supply allocation methodology for guiding decisions when there’s not enough water to meet normal demands.


The response plan describes the stages of water supply conditions and the steps that may be necessary to manage water supplies at each stage.

Messages that encourage immediate conservation are part of the Water Shortage and Drought Response Plan.

Normal: Water supplies match demand, with some water stored in local reservoirs for future use. Water agencies encourage wise water use and operate under standard procedures.

Voluntary Supply Management (Stage 1): The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California withdraws water to meet current-year demands. The Water Authority encourages increased voluntary conservation and adjusts operations to maximize the amount of stored water.

Supply Enhancement (Stage 2): MWD reduces water deliveries. The Water Authority takes water from storage and seeks temporary water transfers to boost supplies. Increased conservation may be required by member agencies.

Mandatory Cutbacks (Stage 3): MWD and Water Authority have no more options to increase supplies and reduce deliveries to member agencies. Extraordinary conservation measures may become mandatory for residential, commercial and institutional water users.