California on Thursday called on residents to reduce water use by 15% and extended the drought-related emergency to nearly half of the state’s population.
“We have been experiencing a drought for two years now, since the previous long episode of the drought ended recently,” Gov. Newsom told a news conference.
He announced that he was signing an executive order encouraging “voluntary efforts to preserve water in the state of California”.
“We hope that the people of California will keep the spirit they had during the last drought and strengthen it with a voluntary 15% reduction, not only in homes but also in industry, commerce and agriculture,” he prayed.
The governor thus asked Californians to show “common sense” by reducing, for example, lawn irrigation and shorter showers.
After several years of very little rain, dam reserves in late May in California were estimated at two-thirds of their normal level.
The situation was exacerbated by last week’s heat wave in parts of the western United States and Canada. Record temperatures are still expected next weekend, with a forecast of up to 53 degrees Celsius in Death Valley, California.
The governor further announced that 50 of California’s 58 counties are now under emergency measures.
Drought-related emergencies affect 42% of the population, mostly in Northern and Central California. It gives the authorities additional powers to control resources.
Among the consequences of the drought is an increased risk of fire, in a region that has already been devastated by massive forest fires in recent years.