Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency Jan. 17, in what is recorded as the driest year in the state of California in the last 100 years.
While California residents enjoy the unusually warm weather this winter, it has caused several problems across the state.
“We ought to be ready for a long, continued, persistent effort to restrain our water use,” said Brown at a news conference at the State Building in San Francisco.
He stated that the water source has dipped into “alarming levels,” with reduced surface flow in rivers and 20 percent less snowpacks at this time of year.
He presented a graph showing the lack of rain as well as photos comparing the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack today from less than a year ago.
“We have to recognize that this is not a partisan adversary,” he said. “This is Mother Nature. We have to live within the resources we have.”
State agencies were ordered to aid farmers by expediting water transfers and releasing stored water from reservoirs. They were also ordered to develop water conservation plans.
“There’s not a government program that can totally compensate for the lack of rain,” Brown said. “Hopefully it will rain eventually, but in the meantime we all have to do our part.”
Following Brown’s emergency call for conservation, several Bay Area counties began offering incentives to residents who were willing to voluntarily cut back.
“People need to be more cautious when they are using water,” said Kyle Parkinson, senior kinesiology major.
As conservation plans are being processed, residents around the state are encouraged to begin the process on their own.
“It is smart to only water your lawn during the early morning and evening times when the sun is not out,” Parkinson said. “You can also cut down your shower time; such small things that you wouldn’t even think of can really help save water.”
Redcross.org offers several tips on how residents can conserve water during the drought. These include using the washing machine for full loads only, running the dishwasher every once in a while, taking short showers and putting a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the plants cool.
California residents can expect an official announcement of the drought soon and that will provide the formal guidelines on water distribution and conservation.