SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked people and businesses in the nation's most populous state to voluntarily cut how much water they use by 15% amid a drought.
The water conservation urged Thursday is not mandatory. But it demonstrates the growing challenges of a drought in the U.S. West that will only worsen throughout the summer and fall and is tied to more intense wildfires and heatwaves.
California’s most important reservoirs will likely reach historic lows later this year.
Officials say that given how low they already are, the request for people to take shorter showers, run dishwashers only when they're full and water lawns less frequently is about planning for next year.
“We’re proud of the tremendous strides made to use water more efficiently and reduce water waste, but we can all find opportunities this summer to keep more water in reserve as this drought could stretch into next year and beyond,” said Newsom in a statement.
State officials estimate an additional 15% voluntary reduction by urban water users from 2020 levels could save as much as 850,000 acre-feet of water over the next year for future use, or enough to supply more than 1.7 million households for a year.
The governor also signed a proclamation Thursday adding nine counties to the regional drought state of emergency: Inyo, Marin, Mono, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz.
Newsom’s office says this will enable state agencies to more quickly and effectively support drought response through actions such as expediting purchasing and contracting to complete projects that shore up water supplies.
The proclamation brings a total of 50 of the state’s 58 counties under the drought state of emergency.