The community of Outingdale in El Dorado County, California is in the middle of a Stage 4 water emergency, as the state enters an expectedly dry summer amidst the devastating four-year drought.
Despite sitting on the banks of the Cosumnes River, Outingdale residents are now limited to just 50 gallons of water per person per day, according to local ABC News affiliate KXTV.
The discrepancy stems from California’s confusing “water rights” system, in which “senior” rights holders have priority access to the state’s quickly dwindling resource. The shortage has gotten so bad in Outingdale that the community is forced to truck in water from other areas.
Even those with “senior” water rights may not be able to rely on the Cosumnes River much longer; according to ABC, the river is expected to dry up by the end of June. Instead, El Dorado County’s water district will continue to truck in water, at a cost of approximately $300,000 over the next six months.
Outingdale resident Ken Knight said the situation is so serious that he sent his grandchildren to live with their mother out of town.
“[50 gallons] sounds like a lot, but that’s for all of your needs,” Knight told ABC News. “We were going to put in a garden, but we just now got notice that we can’t have that either.”
Last week, state water regulators issued a revised set of restrictions for cities and communities across the state, setting water reduction targets for each city based on usage rates. Beverly Hills was ordered to cut water use by 36 percent, while San Francisco was ordered to reduce by 8 percent, and Los Angeles 16 percent.
Earlier this month, California Gov. Jerry Brown issued mandatory water restrictions for the first time in state history.