California issues mandatory water restrictions

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GRN Reports

Responding to the continuing drought, which is worsening because of record light snowfall this year, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order on Wednesday to restrict water use in California by 25 percent.

“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” said Governor Brown. “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.”

The order instructs the State Water Resources Control Board to initiate mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California. The order allows cities and water districts to create their own plans to meet the 25 percent reduction goal. But Brown’s office has listed steps that should be taken, such as asking households to stop irrigating lawns and big users like golf courses and campuses to cut back.

“People should realize we are in a new era,” Brown told a news conference. “The idea of your nice little green lawn getting watered every day, those days are past.”

The order also instructs the local water agencies to use water pricing structures that encourage conservation by charging more for heavy use.

California Water, Brown news conference 4-1
Gov. Brown announcing the water restrictions. (Photo here and above: California Water Resources Department.)


Brown’s executive order also puts these steps and incentives into action:

  • Replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping in partnership with local governments.
  • Direct the creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy efficient models.
  • Require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use.
  • Prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used, and ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

Agricultural growers, already hard hit financially by the 4-year drought, are not being placed under the 25 percent reduction. But the state is strengthening standards for Agricultural Water Management Plans submitted by large agriculture water districts and requires small agriculture water districts to develop similar plans.

The agricultural districts will have to conserve and prepare for continuing drought, the governor said.

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