SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwired - Jan 17, 2014) - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued a proclamation declaring a drought state of emergency today which urges Californians to reduce their water use by 20%. The governor directed consumers to the Save Our Water program to learn ways to reduce household water use, indoor and outdoor.
"We can't make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California's drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas," said Governor Brown. "I've declared this emergency and I'm calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible."
Official Drought Proclamation
In addition to asking the public to cut their water use by 20%, the proclamation:
- Directs state officials to assist farmers and communities that are economically impacted by dry conditions and to ensure the state can respond if Californians face drinking water shortages.
- Directs state agencies to use less water and hire more firefighters.
- Gives state water officials more flexibility to manage supply throughout California under drought conditions.
The full text of the proclamation can be read here.
The drought proclamation follows a series of actions the Brown Administration has taken to ensure that California is prepared for record dry conditions. In May 2013, the governor issued an Executive Order to direct state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water and water rights. In December, Governor Brown formed a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations, California's preparedness for water scarcity and whether conditions merit a drought declaration.
Third Consecutive Dry Year Leads to Drought Emergency
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the first snow survey of the year on Jan. 3 and officials measured the snowpack's statewide water content at about 20 percent of average for this time of year. According to DWR, the readings this month and in 2012 are the driest on record.
Not only is the snowpack dry, the state has suffered from a lack of rain, with many areas ending 2013 with the lowest rainfall amounts on record. According to DWR, Gasquet Ranger Station in Del Norte County-which is normally one of California's wettest spots with an average annual rainfall of nearly 100 inches-only received 43.46 inches last year. Sacramento ended the year with 5.74 inches of rain, vastly lower than the normal 18 inches the region usually receives. Downtown Los Angeles set an all-time low with just 3.4 inches of rainfall. The city's average is 14.74 and the previous record low was 4.08 set in 1953.
Local Agencies Take Action
Prior to the governor's proclamation, several local government agencies declared local emergencies and/or implemented mandatory water use restrictions:
- On January 7, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted to declare a drought emergency, citing an "imminent threat of disaster" from drought conditions. Mendocino is the first county this year to seek state assistance with an emergency drought declaration.
- On January 8, the Kern County Water Agency proclaimed a drought emergency.
- As of January 9, four urban suppliers have implemented mandatory water use restrictions (the cities of Folsom, Santa Cruz, Visalia and Sacramento).
- Four other agencies have enacted voluntary drought response measures, including landscape irrigation restrictions. These are the Sacramento County Water Agency, the Marin Municipal Water District, San Juan Water District, and the city of Roseville.
For more information on how the drought it affecting local water agencies, visit the Association of California Water Agencies' website.
Save Our Water
Save Our Water is a statewide program aimed at helping Californians reduce their everyday water use. Created in 2009 by the California Department of Water Resources and the Association of California Water Agencies, the overarching goal of the SOW program is to make water conservation a permanent, daily habit for Californians.
Research shows that a majority of Californians continue to think that they use more water indoors than outdoors (while the opposite is true). Since its inception, Save Our Water has taken its consumer-focused water conservation message directly to Californians through social media, paid advertising and corporate partnerships, while supporting local water agencies water conservation efforts and providing ACWA and DWR with an ongoing, comprehensive statewide water conservation program.
Ways to Save
While the effects of the drought are different in the various regions of the state, all Californians can help by reducing water use wherever possible. Save Our Water offers the following tips for saving water at home:
- Only wash full loads of laundry and dishes
- Keep showers to five minutes or less
- Install low-flow shower heads and faucets
- Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth
- Don't use the toilet as a waste can
- Replace water-guzzling old-school toilets with low-flow models
- Water in the early morning hours
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean outdoor spaces
- Put a bucket in your shower to catch excess water (or when waiting for the water to get warm) and use that water on container plants
For more tips on how to save water inside or outside the home, visit www.saveourh2o.org or follow Save Our Water on Facebook or Twitter.
For more information about the "Save Our Water" program and ways to conserve water, visit www.saveourh2o.org or follow the program on Facebook or Twitter. For more information about ACWA, visit www.acwa.com. To learn more about the Department of Water Resources, visit www.water.ca.gov.