California Governor Newsom pleads for more local water restrictions during drought

Otherwise, Newsom said, Californians could face mandatory statewide water restrictions this summer.

Newsom met with leaders of the largest city water providers on Monday and implored them “to take more aggressive action to address the drought and better engage their customers to ensure that all Californians are doing their part to save water.” ‘water”.

Despite reservoirs dropping to extremely low levels — the largest currently at half their historic averages, the state said — the data shows the majority of Californians aren’t conserving enough.
In July 2021, Newsom announced a drought emergency, calling on residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15%. Yet in March, not only was the target not met, but urban water consumption increased by 19% compared to March 2020 – the highest water consumption in March since 2015, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

Newsom said water providers have previously asked for more flexibility when responding to droughts based on regional needs and supplies — a localized method he said he supports as long as conservation efforts improve.

But now he is expressing concern that this approach is not enough.

“Each state water agency must take more aggressive steps to communicate the drought urgency and implement conservation measures,” Newsom said in a statement. “California have made significant changes since the last drought, but we have seen an increase in water use, especially as we approach the summer months. We all need to think more about how to ensure that every drop counts.”

Advocates previously told CNN that government officials should focus less on residential water shutoffs and instead mandate them for businesses and industries that use the most water.

Jessica Gable, a spokesperson for Food & Water Watch, an advocacy group targeting corporate and government accountability, told CNN that “no effort has been made to reduce the industries that use the most water. , which are coincidentally the industries that also send the most emissions that fuel the climate crisis.”

Scientists found earlier this year that the West’s current mega-drought is the worst in 1,200 years, and the climate crisis has made it 72% worse.

On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board will vote on a statewide ban on watering non-functional turf — like lawns that serve no purpose — in commercial, industrial and institutional, and on regulations that would require local agencies to implement water use restrictions in all urban areas of the state “amid the possibility that the water supply could be up to 20% lower due to extreme weather conditions”.

Newsom will meet with agency executives again in the next two months for an update. He also called for agencies to submit water use data more often to measure whether the state is meeting its water conservation goals.

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