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California imposes first mandatory water reductions as drought persists

Published:  02 April, 2015

California is imposing mandatory water restrictions on residents and business requiring they reduce water usage by 25%, in response to the severe drought that has been affecting the state.

It is the first time in the state's history it has imposed such measures. 

Jerry Brown, the governor of the sate of California, made the announcement yesterday following snowpack measurement in the Sierra Nevada mountain range which supplies the state's water system. This winter's snowpack is one of the driest levels on record.

"We are in a historic drought and that demands unprecedented actions," said Governor Brown in a press conference yesterday.

Farms that source their water from outside the local water agencies will not be affected and are not required to comply with the 25% reduction requirement, according to the executive order. However, farms that depend on state and local water agencies have already seen cutbacks in their water allocations and owners of large farms will be required to offer reports detailing water use to state regulators.

Measurements from The California Department of Water Resources showed the statewide water content of the Sierra snowpack was only 5% of the normal average for 1 April - the lowest level since records began in 1950.

Last year's 2014 Water Year, which ended on 30 September for California, was the third driest in the 119 years recorded by the state and was also the warmest year on record. The heat impacted the vineyards with several growers in California reporting some of the earliest vintages in a decade.

The concern for many in California is that with a relatively drier winter, the state is now heading into the summer months with little relief from conditions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association did predict at the end of last year that conditions could get worse in 2015, with wine producers starting to see a serious impact on their vines. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Centre, 2015 conditions are not encouraging.

NOAA said in statement last year that drought was likely to persist well into 2015. The statement said: "While drought may improve in some portions of the US this winter, California's record-setting drought will likely persist or intensify in large parts of the state."