Governor declares drought in California

June 4, 2008 9:01:46 PM PDT
Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state wide drought Wednesday, saying residents and water managers must come up with a plan to cut water usage now to avoid mandatory water rationing.

"We have a serious drought," said Governor Schwarzenegger on Wednesday.

You may have to let your lawn turn brown, drive a dirtier car and wait until your dishwasher is really full before you turn it on.

By declaring a statewide drought, Governor Schwarzenegger put Californians on notice that the state's water supply is falling dangerously low.

"We're asking Californians and letting them know there is a serious drought and that we have a problem. We want everyone to work together to conserve water," said Governor Schwarzenegger.

With this spring the driest on record, the snowpack water content translated to only 67 percent of normal. What's worse is runoff, which most of the state depends on for drinking water, is forecasted to be a frightening 55 percent of normal.

"It's a drier watershed, and we're losing more of the snowpack to direct evaporation, as opposed to running off. So the conditions have deteriorated on a regular basis, and that is what has led us to this," says Lester Snow from the CA Dept. of Water Resources.

Adding to the problem is the endangered delta smelt.

Pumps carrying water from North to South have been limited by the courts to save that fish from extinction. Now, farmers may soon have to make a choice.

"There's a concern in the San Joaquin Valley that the crops may have to be plowed up because of the reduced water supply. It's not just the tomato crop that you lose, it's the employment that's associated with the tomato crop," says Snow.

While two water districts are already rationing, the Governor call on every Californian to stop wasting water and use less to get us through year two of the drought.

"Just change habits. It's good for everybody. If we don't do that it, we're all going to suffer," says water customer Tom DeChicchio.

If conservation doesn't work, statewide rationing could be ordered. But it's never been done before. That's a serious step because that means the drought is having an environmental and economic impact on our state.


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