Responding to lowest snowpack ever recorded, Gov. Jerry Brown imposed the first mandatory water restrictions in the state Wednesday, ordering cities, towns, universities and others across California to reduce water use by 25 percent.
Brown accompanied state officials today to the Lake Tahoe area, where water experts measured the snowpack, which is a major source of water for the state but has been severely depleted to the ongoing drought.
“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow,” Brown said. “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 also ordered the replacement of 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought-tolerant landscaping; the creation of a statewide rebate program for consumers who replace old appliances with more water-efficient models; mandatory reduction of water use at campuses and golf courses; and banning the use of potable water for irrigation at new homes and developments.
Local water agencies were also ordered to implement “conservation pricing,” aimed at penalizing customers who overuse water. Brown said he wants stricter enforcement efforts across the state to crack down on water-wasters, and ordered monthly reports from water suppliers about water usage, conservation and enforcement actions.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who had already called on city residents to cut their water use by 20 percent, hailed Brown’s announcement.
“I’m very pleased to see the governor’s actions, and they mirror what we have done here,” he said. “… When you see snowpack at 6 percent of what it should be, I praise this governor. I praise the state taking action as we have. They called us ahead of time and said we want to do what you’re doing with the turf program, which we’ve seen triple ever since I became mayor.”
He said the city is offering residents $3.75 per square foot of turf they remove.
Randy Record, chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California board of directors, said the agency has been “taking the lead” in turf removal, thanks to a $100 million rebate program.
“We applaud the call to remove additional turf throughout the state and ending the wasteful practice of irrigating ornamental lawns on street medians with potable water,” Record said. “It is time to stop watering turf that serves no function.”
Record said the board would meet later this month to discuss the management of its water supplies.
“While Southern California has added 5 million people in the past generation and at the same time decreased use of imported water, we realize that this drought requires dramatic action at this time,” he said.
— City News Service
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