California parched – Schwarzenegger warns of water rationing

Two dry years, very low runoff from snow melt and legal restrictions on water transfer have plunged California into a drought forcing the state to introduce conservation measures and even rationing.

State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced emergency measures to attempt to reduce the impact of the drought and warned that the ‘dire’ situation could also increase the risk of forest fires, cause a loss of crops and harm the economy.

“For the areas in Northern California that supply most of our water, this March, April and May have been the driest ever in our recorded history,” said Gov Schwarzenegger.

“As a result, some local governments are rationing water, developments can’t proceed and agricultural fields are sitting idle.

“We must recognise the severity of the crisis we face, so I am signing an executive order proclaiming a statewide drought and directing my Department of Water Resources and other entities to take immediate action to address the situation.”

The order calls on the department to:

  • Facilitate water transfers to respond to emergency shortages across the state.
  • Work with local water districts and agencies to improve local coordination.
  • Help local water districts and agencies improve water efficiency and conservation.
  • Coordinate with other state and federal agencies and departments to assist water suppliers, identify risks to water supply and help farmers suffering losses.
  • Expedite existing grant programs to help local water districts and agencies conserve.
  • It also encourages local water districts and agencies to promote water conservation.

    The state government is already ploughing billions of dollars into water storage and treatment infrastructure.

    “This drought is an urgent reminder of the immediate need to upgrade California’s water infrastructure,” said Gov Schwarzenegger.

    “There is no more time to waste because nothing is more vital to protect our economy, our environment and our quality-of-life. We must work together to ensure that California will have safe, reliable and clean water not only today but 20, 30 and 40 years from now.”

    Sam Bond

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