Signing an Executive Order on July 8, California (CA) Governor Gavin Newsom has asked Californians to voluntarily cut their water use by 15% to mitigate severe drought conditions across the state, and to protect water reserves and help maintain critical flows for fish and wildlife.
During the last drought from 2012 to 2016, Californians were ordered to cut their water use by an average of 25% statewide. With the new drought emergency declarations, there is still no statewide emergency or mandate to reduce water use.
The request applies to businesses and agriculture as well as residents. Meeting the target could save enough water to supply 1.7 million average households for one year, according to state officials. Fifty counties, about 42% of the state’s population, are now under drought emergencies — essentially everywhere except San Francisco and urban Southern California.
About 4,300 users were also warned to stop diverting water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed, stretching from Fresno to the Oregon border. Notifications, which indicate that demand from farmers and cities is exceeding supply, are the widest-ranging move by state regulators since 2015 to restrict the use of water rights in a major watershed.
“The realities of climate change are nowhere more apparent than in the increasingly frequent and severe drought challenges we face in the West and their devastating impacts on our communities, businesses and ecosystems,” said Governor Newsom in a statement.
To help Californians take simple action to reduce water use, state agencies are partnering with local water suppliers to promote conservation tips through the Save Our Water campaign. The campaign and website were critical resources for Californians during the 2012-2016 drought and remain a trusted information source on using water wisely.
Last summer, Newsom released a final version of the Water Resilience Portfolio, the Administration’s blueprint for equipping CA to cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on groundwater and other challenges.