Despite wet year, California Governor calls for continued water conservation

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Governor Jerry Brown's order requires more intensive drought planning by both urban water districts and by farmers and directs state water officials to prepare new water restrictions in case the drought carries into 2017. (KFSN)

California will consider lifting a mandatory statewide water conservation order for cities but farmers will face stricter regulations.

Governor Jerry Brown's order requires more intensive drought planning by both urban water districts and by farmers and directs state water officials to prepare new water restrictions in case the drought carries into 2017.

Californians had achieved a nearly 25 percent overall cut in water use, saving an amount of water that would supply 17 percent of the state's population for a year.

Brown said in a statement that "Californians stepped up during this drought and saved more water than ever before but .....drought is becoming a regular occurrence and water conservation must be a part of our everyday life."

But state officials are looking to farmers across that state for more help.

"We know that shifting to a permanent emphasis on conservation water use efficiency is something that has to happen throughout all of California," water official Karen Ross said. "Agriculture has moved in that direction over recent decades."

The Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture says the ag industry will be affected the most.

Under the order water suppliers with more than 10,000 irrigated acres of land will have to complete with "agricultural water management plans."

Right now only water districts with 25,000 acres or more must file a plan.

"You're asking my farmers to cut back again," Manuel Cunha with the Nisei Farmers League said. "They have already cut back. I don't know how much more they can cut back."

But Cunha says they have done enough and Governor Brown has not meet certain obligations.

"He has allowed the state water agencies and others to dump millions of acre feet of water since November, December of this last year out to the ocean," he said.

Cunha says the state need to focus more on water storage rather than conservation.

He says state leaders need to look at long-term plans on building new dams and improving reservoirs.
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