California is experiencing its third straight dry year and many of the state’s reservoirs are at historic lows. Brown says he won’t make water conservation mandatory, but he says it’s important to “awaken” Californians to the serious issue.
Declaring a drought expedites water transfers to allow water to flow where it is needed most. It also relaxes some water quality regulations.
As part of the declaration, the California Department of Water Resources will also identify groundwater shortages and land fallowing and provide a update by April 30.
“We are in an unprecedented very serious situation and people should pause and reflect on how dependent we are on the rain, on nature and one another.”
~Gov. Jerry Brown
January brought above-average rainfall and snow to much of California, partly due to El Niño. But forecasters say the ocean warming condition is "taking a break" for the next week or longer.
The U.S. Drought Monitor says, other than a slight reduction in exceptional drought in the northern Sierra, it needs more time to assess impacts of the recent moisture on California's long-term drought.
California regulators have made modest adjustments to water conservation requirements for cities.
The second measurement this winter of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was 130 percent of average. State water officials say the snowpack will help reservoir recovery.
California's water conservation rate dropped to 18 percent in December. But water regulators say the state continues to meet its long term goals.