Thursday, April 02, 2015

California gets its first mandatory water restrictions

California's drought conditions have gotten so bad that Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday ordered cities and towns "to cut water use by 25 percent as part of a sweeping set of mandatory drought restrictions, the first in state history," Chris Megerian, Mett Stevens and Bettina Boxall report for the Los Angeles Times. Draft regulations will be released later this month and the plan is expected to be approved in May. (U.S. Drought Monitor map: Brown area has "exceptional drought")

"The directive comes more than a year after Brown asked for a 20 percent voluntary cut in water use that most parts of the state have failed to attain, even as one of the most severe modern droughts drags into a fourth year," the Times reports. "It also came on the day that water officials measured the lowest April 1 snowpack in more than 60 years of record-keeping in the Sierra Nevada."

The order mostly focuses on urban restrictions, even though 75 percent of the state's water use is for agriculture. Cities have to stop watering median strips in the middle of roads, golf courses, campuses and cemeteries have to cut water use and water agencies will attempt to discourage water waste by accessing higher rates and fees.

The drought currently affects 37,007,923 Californians, says the Drought Monitor. Overall, 41.11 percent of the state is listed under "exceptional drought" status, 66.6 percent "extreme drought" and 93.44 percent "severe drought."

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