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Lack of water has western states fearing worst

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LOS ANGELES — The punishing drought that has swept California and much of the West is confronting authorities with the worst water shortage this region has faced in more than a century, with near-empty reservoirs, parched fields, starving livestock, clouds of smog, and outbreaks of wildfires.

With no sign of significant rain, 17 rural communities in the state, which provide water to 40,000 people, are in danger of running out of water within 60 to 120 days.

California authorities announced Friday that they had no water left in the State Water Project, the main municipal water distribution system, to supplement the dwindling supplies of local agencies that serve 25 million people. It is the first time the project has turned off its spigot in its 54-year history.

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