Ten months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for Californians to voluntarily cut water consumption by 15 percent. But that goal remains far off — water use has come down less than 4 percent — and the state’s drought has only been getting worse.
So state officials on Tuesday adopted emergency regulations aimed at delivering the most drastic statewide cuts to address the drought thus far. The rules require local water agencies to reduce water use by up to 20 percent and prohibit any watering of ornamental lawns at businesses and other commercial properties.
Officials earlier this year announced penalties for watering yards after a rainstorm. The latest measures are part of an effort to push water suppliers toward what’s “going to be needed in this new normal,” said Laurel Firestone, a California State Water Resources Control Board member.
“We are in this unprecedented drought. We need to act like it,” Firestone said at Tuesday’s board meeting. California’s large reservoirs are depleted, and the snowpack has shrunk to 12 percent of what it usually is this time of year.
Newsom warned that without significant reductions this summer, the state could enact even more cuts. In the previous drought, Jerry Brown, the governor at the time, ordered a mandatory 25 percent across-the-board reduction in urban water use.
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