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New government maps show nearly all of the West is in drought and it's not even summer yet: "This is unprecedented"

Posted at 1:33 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 15:33:00-04

In an unprecedented move, Southern California officials declared a water shortage emergency and asked roughly 6 million residents to limit all outdoor watering to just once a week.

"We knew climate change would stress our water supplies and we've been preparing for it but we did not know it would happen this fast," said Gloria Gray, chairwoman of the Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors.

The latest government maps show nearly all of the West is in drought, and 95% of California is suffering severe or extreme drought.

"This is real. This is serious. This is unprecedented," said Adel Hagekhalil, general manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

California is not alone as reservoirs across the West are draining.

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the nation formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, needs a new pump to ensure water can flow to Las Vegas.

"The problem with climate change is that it takes all the historical patterns and kind of shifts them," NASA scientist Dr. JT Reager told CBS News' Ben Tracy.

Reager said the West is in a 22-year megadrought, as climate change makes it hotter and drier.

"We're just starting to see the dominoes fall. It's drier, we're starting to see less water in our reservoirs, and we have fires, and in California, there's just this series of consequences that we anticipate," said Reager.