Gov. Brown Issues Unprecedented Statewide Water Restrictions

Gov. Jerry Brown introduced an executive order issuing mandatory water restrictions on California residents on Wednesday, April 1. Under the executive order, Californians are expected to reduce their water usage by 25 percent. 

This is the first time in state history that residents, businesses and farms face penalties for not reducing their water usage. The restrictions come as California enters its fourth consecutive year of drought conditions.

Brown released the details of his executive order at a news conference on Wednesday.

“It’s going to save water by mandating real reductions in a number of areas,” Brown said. “It’s going to affect golf courses, people’s lawns, universities, campuses, all sorts of institutions.”

The news conference took place during the annual measuring of the snowpack at the Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. 

According to the California Department of Water Resources, the Sierra snowpack, which provides Californians with a third of their water supply, is at 5 percent of its normal size for this time of year. This was the first year since its commencement in 1941 that the early-April measurement found no snow at the Phillips Station. 

“We’re standing on dry grass and we should be standing on five feet of snow,” Brown pointed out.

The executive order calls on the State Water Resources Control Board to implement the restrictions.

Mark Weston, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors, released a statement on Wednesday, April 1 regarding Brown’s executive order. 

“Today’s call to action by the governor and the record-low April snowpack,” Weston said, “emphasize just how urgent water conservation is for San Diego County and the rest of California.”

According to Weston, the San Diego County Water Authority’s board of directors will meet on April 23 to set water-supply cutback levels. Weston subsequently urged San Diegans to start cutting back on water usage now.

“Reduce landscape irrigation, trim shower times, fix all leaks immediately,” Weston advised. “And urge your friends and neighbors to do the same.”

Weston also pointed out the importance of beginning to conserve water as soon as possible.

“By conserving now, we preserve our limited storage reserves in case next winter’s snowpack is as meager as this one,” Weston said.

In addition to implementing restrictions on water usage, the executive order calls on the Department of Water Resources to lead a statewide initiative to replace 50 million square feet of lawns and ornamental turf with drought-tolerant landscapes. The Department of Water Resources will provide funding to allow for replacement programs in underserved communities.

The executive order also laid the groundwork for a time-limited statewide appliance rebate program, which would provide monetary incentives for California residents to replace inefficient household devices. The California Energy Commission, the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board will implement this program together.