Gov. Brown orders officials to impose mandatory water restrictions

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2014, file photo, morning traffic makes its way toward downtown Los Angeles along the Hollywood Freeway, past an electronic sign warning of severe drought. Recent storms have eased California's decade-long drought somewhat, but state officials are worried that the rain will give people an excuse to abandon their already paltry conservation efforts. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

ECHO LAKE (KRON) — For the first time ever, Governor Edmund G. Brown ordered that officials impose mandatory water restrictions throughout the state.

This announcement came just after Brown accompanied officials to record the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.

The snowpack measured Wednesday morning is the lowest snowpack ever recorded.

Brown hopes that the water restrictions will save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state’s drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient.

“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.”

Since 2012, state officials have been monitoring water resources to make sure that the state survives the current drought and is better prepared for any future ones,

In 2014, Gov. Brown declared a drought state of emergency.

Under that, the state has taken steps to make sure that water is available for human health and safety, growing food, fighting fires and protecting fish and wildlife.

Millions have been spent helping thousands of California families most impacted by the drought pay their bills, put food on their tables and have water to drink.

Governor Brown’s executive order consists of four main parts; saving water, increasing enforcement, streamlining government response and investing in new technologies.

SAVING WATER

Brown has directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns to reduce usage by 25 percent.

These savings will amount to about 1.5 million acre-feet of water in the next nine months.

To save more water now, the order will also:

  • 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; and
  • 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.

INCREASE ENFORCEMENT
The executive order will call on local water agencies to adjust their rate structures, implementing conservation pricing.

Agricultural water users will be required to report more water use information to state regulators.

Additional actions include:

  • Taking action against water agencies in depleted groundwater basins that have not shared data on their groundwater supplies with the state;
  • Updating standards for toilets and faucets and outdoor landscaping in residential communities and taking action against communities that ignore these standards; and
  • Making permanent monthly reporting of water usage, conservation and enforcement actions by local water suppliers.

STREAMLINE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
Governor Brown’s order will :

  • Prioritizes state review and decision-making of water infrastructure projects and requires state agencies to report to the Governor’s Office on any application pending for more than 90 days.
  • Streamlines permitting and review of emergency drought salinity barriers – necessary to keep freshwater supplies in upstream reservoirs for human use and habitat protection for endangered and threatened species;
  • Simplifies the review and approval process for voluntary water transfers and emergency drinking water projects; and
  • Directs state departments to provide temporary relocation assistance to families who need to move from homes where domestic wells have run dry to housing with running water.

INVEST IN NEW TECHNOLOGIES

The order helps make California more drought resilient by:

  • Incentivizing promising new technology that will make California more water efficient through a new program administered by the California Energy Commission.

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