Standing on dry grass in an area that would typically be covered by at least several feet of accumulated snow in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains on Wednesday, California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday announced his approval of emergency measures, including mandatory water restrictions, designed to help the nation’s largest state cope with a drought that has been described as the worst in a millennium.
“We’re in a new era. The idea of your nice little green grass getting water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.” —California Gov. Jerry Brown
“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow,” Gov. Brown said at a news conference at Echo Summit in the Sierra Nevada mountains alongside state officials who released the grim results of a survey (pdf) about this year’s snowpack.
“This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” Brown continued. “Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”
Alongside Brown was Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources, who said that for his survey team to have found “no snow whatsoever” in the mountains spells severe trouble for the year ahead. “Today’s survey underscores the severity of California’s drought,” Cowin said. “Water conservation must become a way of life during the worst drought in most Californians’ lifetimes.”
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Unprecedented in state history, Brown’s executive order directs the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent. If the state can reduce consumption by that much it would amount to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet by year’s end.
To save more water in the immediate term, the order will also: