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California Governor imposes water restrictions

California Governor imposes water restrictions

In Dire Need of Water

As Coloradoans know, snow melt is crucial for our state’s water supply. California, now in its fourth year of a crippling drought, had a winter with record-low snowfall, adding to the already devastating drought. Governor Jerry Brown of California put an executive order in place on April 1, 2015 for mandatory water restrictions. This is the first time in California’s history that there are mandatory water restrictions, despite being through serious droughts like the 1970’s drought where similar measures were considered. The Governor gave the speech about the executive order at a popular ski destination in California. The Governor spoke about the drastic need for snow, stating “Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action. Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our states. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.” As snow build up over the winter months provides the water that will be used for California’s taps and irrigations for the summer months to come, at unprecedented low amounts, this is dangerous for the supply and demand on water for Californians. According to California Department of Water Resources, snow surveys statewide showed that California is about 5% of their average for the start of April. Snow pack is crucial for managing water supper and irrigation for farms.

Dry Winter Means Action is Needed

As water has long been a very precious resource to California, action in response to one of the driest winters was imperative. The executive order required that the State Water Resources Control Board cut water usage by 25 percent on the state’s 400 local water supply agencies over the next nine months. This cut, according to the Governor’s office, amounts to 1.5 million acre-feet of water over nine months (one acre-foot of water equals about 325,000 gallons). It is certain that Californians will have to help in the matter, cutting back on watering lawns, cleaning cars, and taking showers. Brown stated “People should realize we are in a new era. The idea of your nice little green lawn getting watered every day, those days are past”. The director of the California Department of Water Resources said that in hopes of accomplishing the 25 percent reduction, the state would monitor the compliance with the law closely. The water cuts will vary from community to community depending upon their per capita water usage.

In addition, CNN highlighted that the executive order will do the following:

  •  Impose significant cuts in water use on campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes
  • Replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with “drought tolerant landscaping”
  • Create a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with water efficient models
  • Prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used
  • Ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians
  • Require agricultural water users to report more water use information to state regulators, increasing the state’s ability to enforce against illegal diversions and waste

Michael Nickels

April 8th, 2015

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