Facing a new climate reality, Southern California lawns could wither

The relentless dry spell that is withering the American West is steadily warping normal life. Major reservoirs have baked down to record lows and are still dropping, threatening the ability to generate hydropower. Farming regions that fill the country’s produce aisles are being forced to leave fields fallow, unable to irrigate. The warming climate is fanning wildfires and melting off the mountain snowpack that millions rely on for their drinking water.

Amid the historic drought now entering its third painful summer, the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, has demanded this home and millions of others cut irrigation by 35% as of June 1. If things don’t improve by September, authorities say, outdoor water use could be banned entirely.

In Los Angeles, the drought is now coming for the lawns.

“We are in an emergency. I call this a natural disaster,” said Adel Hagekhalil, the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which announced last month that some 6 million people in its service area will have to limit irrigation to one day per week,the most severe cutbacks in its history.