California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) announced strict new curbs on state water use Wednesday to combat a worsening drought affecting more than 50 million people in the western United States.
The executive order imposes mandatory water reductions across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent. Brown announced the new restrictions on a mountain near Lake Tahoe, where state officials gathered to conduct an annual snowfall measure. The field where the measurement took place has averaged 66 inches of snow on April 1 since records began in 1950; today, there is no snow on the ground.
“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow,” Brown said Wednesday.
While the eastern United States weathered a colder-than-usual winter, a warm and dry winter west of the Rocky Mountains has state officials concerned that the years-long drought will worsen this summer. The drought has diminished urban water supplies, taxed state budgets and created an environment ripe for a disastrous fire season.