CAIRO – The state has started pumping water from the Colorado River for drinking and irrigation as drought has made drinking water scarce in the state.
A water supply of 3.3 million acre-feet of water was delivered to California last week by the Colorado-New Mexico Water Authority (CNWA), an agency of the state water board.
Water is pumped into storage tanks at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), where the water is being stored.
It is the first water supply to California in more than a decade and the first to the California National Guard.
“It’s a major step forward,” said Steve Weltman, a spokesman for the CPUC.
“It means that the California Army Corps of Engineers (CAAC) will be able to provide water to the public for drinking, agriculture and other purposes.”
The water has been used to pump and store water for the past three weeks and is being used in a separate project by the CPUB to provide irrigation to drought-hit farms and cities.
The California State Water Resources Control Board (CSWRB) also approved a plan to use the water to provide drinking water to households and businesses in Southern California.
The state is in a drought emergency, which means that it cannot produce enough water to meet demand.
California officials are hoping to increase the amount of water in the Colorado to 6.5 million acre feet (2.8 million acre meters) by 2020 to provide more than 2.5 billion people with drinking water and irrigation, as well as more than 400 million people with power.