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First Ever Statewide Water Restrictions

Sacramento, CA – In a history making move, California Governor Jerry Brown Wednesday ordered officials to implement mandatory water restrictions for the first time.

Brown was Friday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.

As reported earlier this week, Brown announced he would attend the final manual snow pack reading by the Department of Water Resources near Echo Summit.  Last week’s electronic readings showed the Sierra Nevada snowpack water content was lower than any year on record, dating back to 1950, with just 8% of the historical average in late March.  The snowpack is normally at its peak on April 1.  At the reading Brown said, “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 state.  As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”

Brown has directed the state water board to impose reductions across the state to cut usage by 25%.

Here is the Governor’s summary of the executive order issued:

Save Water

For the first time in state history, the Governor has directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25%.  This savings amounts to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville.

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 Governor’s order calls on local water agencies to adjust their rate structures to implement conservation pricing, recognized as an effective way to realize water reductions and discourage water waste. Agricultural water users – which have borne much of the brunt of the drought to date, with hundreds of thousands of fallowed acres, significantly reduced water allocations and thousands of farmworkers laid off – will be required to report more water use information to state regulators, increasing the state’s ability to enforce against illegal diversions and waste and unreasonable use of water under today’s order. Additionally, the Governor’s action strengthens standards for Agricultural Water Management Plans submitted by large agriculture water districts and requires small agriculture water districts to develop similar plans. These plans will help ensure that agricultural communities are prepared in case the drought extends into 2016.

Additional actions required by the order 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

The order:

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.

Click here (Governor Brown’s Executive Order) to view the actual executive order.

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 AM.