Connecting state and local government leaders

California Governor Announces Mandatory Statewide Water Cutbacks

California Gov. Jerry Brown has announced mandatory statewide water usage reductions.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has announced mandatory statewide water usage reductions. Eddie J. Rodriquez /


Connecting state and local government leaders

“This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” Jerry Brown says, laying out his action plan to cut water use by 25 percent.

It was no April Fool’s Day joke and California’s historic drought is no laughing matter.

On Wednesday at a manual snow survey of the Sierra Nevada snowpack, Gov. Jerry Brown announced mandatory statewide water restrictions and is directing the State Water Resources Control Board to mandate 25 percent water usage reductions that will save 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months.

"Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action," Brown said, according to the announcement from the governor’s office. "Therefore, I'm issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible."

Beyond the steep water usage restrictions, Brown’s executive order does the following:

  • Encourages water providers to charge consumers conservation water rates, which have been shown to curb water waste.
  • Creates a temporary statewide rebate program to help consumers replace inefficient appliances with more efficient ones.
  • Replaces 50 million square feet of lawn with drought-tolerant landscaping.
  • Bans the watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.
  • Requires facilities with large expanses of landscaping like college campuses, cemeteries and golf courses to make sizable water-use reductions.
  • Requires agricultural water users to submit information on their water use to the state.
  • Authorize the state to take action against water providers who use groundwater sources but don’t share their usage data.
  • Streamlines the approval process for voluntary water transfer and emergency drinking water projects.

Brown’s administration has already authorized $1 billion in funding to help the state address the drought’s impacts.

Read our previous feature on the water conservation measures that have been implemented in Santa Cruz.