Southern Californians may soon be called on to conserve water as the state’s “extreme drought” has created stress in the supply.

The Metropolitan Water District, who cover 26 cities in six counties, made the declaration after the Bureau of Reclamation revealed the Colorado River experienced its first ever shortage of water. The Colorado River typically provides about 25% of Southern California’s water supply.

“Southern Californians have done an extraordinary job reducing their water use, which has helped us build up our stored reserves for times like these. But now we’re relying on our storage to get us through this exceptionally dry year. And we don’t know what next year will bring,” Metropolitan board Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray said. “We must all find ways we can save even more so we have the water we need if this drought continues.”

The board said the shortage itself “isn’t really that severe,” but is an early indicator that water supply will keep going down in the coming years.

Local water agencies are now expected to look at their individial supplies and suggest what conservation actions would be best to ask of consumers.

The Water Supply Alert is the third of four indication levels the board uses, and has not been declared since May of 2016. It is a preventative action as drought conditions become more severe.

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