California Gets First-Ever Rules to Limit Water Use

Jerry Brown issues mandatory order amid historic drought
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2015 2:18 PM CDT
California Gets First-Ever Rules to Limit Water Use
In this May 1, 2014, file photo, irrigation water runs along a dried-up ditch between rice farms to provide water for the fields in Richvale, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(Newser) – California Gov. Jerry Brown made history today, but not in a way he's happy about: He ordered the state's first-ever mandatory water restrictions amid a brutal drought, reports CBS Local. A slew of new rules will aim to curb water use by 25% over nine months. "It's a different world," said Brown. "We have to act differently." He emphasized the point by making the announcement from the Sierra Nevada on bare ground—at a spot that normally would be covered in several feet of snow this time of year. This year's Sierra snowpack is about 5% of the state average, the lowest since record-keeping began in 1950, meaning it won't be able to provide needed runoff in the spring and summer, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Among other things, the state will team with local governments to replace 50 million square feet of lawn with more drought-tolerant landscaping; golf courses and cemeteries will have to scrimp on watering; and residents and farmers will be encouraged through rebates, new pricing models, and penalties to install more efficient systems. If it all works, the savings would amount to 1.5 million acre-feet of water by the end of the year. “This is sort of unchartered territory,” says a spokesperson for the state Department of Water Resources. It's "dismal." (Read more California stories.)

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