Lowest Snowpack In California History Triggers Mandatory Conservation

December 8th, 2015

Waterkeeper organizations praise state action on conservation, enforcement and pricing

Media Contacts: Sara Aminzadeh, California Coastkeeper Alliance (415-794-8422 ); Liz Crosson, Los Angeles Waterkeeper (541-944-5589)
Press Release

(Sacramento, CA) – Today, the Governor issued an executive order which calls on state and local water agencies to implement a series of measures to save water, including increased enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state’s drought response, and invest in new technologies. The Governor’s action was issued concurrently with the release of the April 1 snowpack assessment, which showed the lowest level of accumulated snowpack since the state started keeping records (approximately 6% of normal levels, compared to 24% of normal levels last year). The lack of snowpack will result in very little or no runoff from the Sierra into California’s reservoirs and rivers.

The Governor directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent. The Governor’s order also “streamlines permitting and review of emergency drought salinity barriers.”

Waterkeeper Alliance, California Coastkeeper Alliance and Los Angeles Waterkeeper praise the mandatory conservation order, after a largely lackluster response to voluntary conservation orders in 2014. The organizations are encouraged by measures to increase reporting and monitoring of water usage, a needed move to improve local enforcement. The organizations also praise the requirement that local water agencies adjust rate structures to implement conservation pricing. The organizations flagged concerns about how streamlining permitting of drought salinity barriers could harm Delta smelt, Chinook salmon, and other threatened and endangered fish and other species.

Waterkeeper organizations issued the following statements:

“Local jurisdictions have to implement and enforce these measures to actually reduce water usage. Many of the State Board’s mandatory measures are still not enforced in Los Angeles. Until Californians take the drought seriously, we will continue to see reserves depleted and the future become more uncertain. The next step for California is to set mandatory daily limits on gallons per person per day,” said Liz Crosson, Los Angeles Waterkeeper Executive Director.

“Over the next several months we will see some communities run out of clean water, and rivers, streams and wetlands dried up, leaving fish and wildlife stranded. We need action at all levels of government that reflects the urgency and severity of this crisis,” said Sara Aminzadeh, the Executive Director of California Coastkeeper Alliance.

“The effects of climate change continue to threaten our world’s waterways,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director at Waterkeeper Alliance. “Nearly every region in the country is facing increased risk of seasonal drought and as we’re seeing in California, climate change is wreaking havoc on the sustainability of our water supplies. We need to amplify the voice of communities that are suffering in order to demand action from our leaders at the global level before it’s too late.”

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