WASHINGTON, April 1, 2015- California is mandating cities and towns across the state to reduce water usage by 25 percent, as well as requiring increased reporting from agricultural water users.

The first mandatory water reductions in the state’s history should amount to a savings of approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, according to the office of California Governor Jerry Brown.

California has been dealing with the effects of drought for more than two years. The announcement follows the lowest snowpack on record and a last year’s proclaimed drought state of emergency.

The governor’s announcement acknowledged that agricultural water users “have borne much of the brunt of the drought to date, with hundreds of thousands of fallowed acres, significantly reduced water allocations and thousands of farmworkers laid off.” However, they will be required to report more water use information to state regulators, increasing the state's ability to enforce against illegal diversions and waste and unreasonable use of water.

Additionally, the governor's action strengthens standards for Agricultural Water Management Plans submitted by large agriculture water districts and requires small agriculture water districts to develop similar plans. These plans will help ensure that agricultural communities are prepared in case the drought extends into 2016, according to the announcement.

The order requires agricultural water suppliers that supply water to more than 25,000 acres to include in their required 2015 Agricultural Water Management Plans a detailed drought management plan, and smaller agricultural water suppliers that supply water to 10,000-25,000 acres of irrigated lands must now develop Agricultural Water Management Plans and submit them to the government by July 1, 2016.

“This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” said Brown, who is serving his fourth term as California’s governor. “Therefore, I'm issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”

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Among other parameters, the governor's order calls on local water agencies to adjust their rate structures to implement conservation pricing. Other actions required by the order include: Taking action against water agencies in depleted groundwater basins that have not shared data on their groundwater supplies with the state; updating standards for toilets and faucets and outdoor landscaping in residential communities and taking action against communities that ignore these standards; and making permanent monthly reporting of water usage, conservation and enforcement actions by local water suppliers.

The full text of the executive order can be found here.


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