Standing in a dry Sierra Nevada meadow which is usually buried under five feet of snow, Brown was able to provide a haunting visual illustration of the unprecedented drought. He was joined by scientists taking a snowpack measurement on the date by which the state’s snowpack has usually reached its peak. The measurement on this particular April 1 was, of course, “zero,” the first time since 1940 that no snow had been measured there.
Although the state issued wimpy voluntary restrictions two weeks ago, and a $1 billion relief plan for those effected by the catastrophic drought, now the situation is even more dire, with snowpack across the state being reported at less than 5 percent the annual average.
Brown said today he wants to cut the state’s annual water use cut by 25 percent—that’s 5 percent more than the voluntary reduction’s goal. He also said that enforcement would be key, hinting that fines and legal recourse would be in place to punish water wasters.
Here’s a basic rundown of what California can expect, according to the Los Angeles Times:
—Require golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscaped spaces to reduce water consumption.
—Replace 50 million square feet of lawn statewide with drought-tolerant landscaping as part of a partnership with local governments.
—Create statewide rebate program to replace old appliance with more water- and energy-efficient ones.
—Requires new homes to have water-efficient drip irrigation if developers want to use potable water for irrigation.
—Bans the water of ornamental grass on public street medians.
—Calls on water agencies to implement new pricing models that discourage excessive water use.
What’s still missing? Although these restrictions focus more on municipal water uses, agricultural reform is still needed. For the state to see the most drastic reduction of overall water use, there would have to be restrictions imposed upon on farms, which use 80 percent of the state’s water. But many farms are already planting fewer fields with more drought-tolerant crops, anticipating a dry summer.
This is progress, and a lot more ballsy than the voluntary restrictions from before. In honor of Brown, let’s all pledge to Jerry Brown our lawns this summer. [LA Times]
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli