Governor declares statewide drought

SACRAMENTO You may have to let your lawn turn brown, drive a dirtier car, and wait until your dishwasher is really full before you turn it on. By declaring a statewide drought, Gov. Schwarzenegger put Californians on notice that the state's water supply is falling dangerously low.

"We're asking Californians and letting them know there is a serious drought and that we have a problem," said Gov. Schwarzenegger. "We want everyone to work together to conserve water."

With this spring the driest on record, the snowpack water content translated to only 67 percent of normal. What's worse is that runoff - which most of the state depends on for drinking water - is forecasted to be a frightening 55 percent of normal.

"It's a drier watershed, and we're losing more of the snowpack to direct evaporation as opposed to running off. So the conditions have deteriorated on a regular basis, and that is what has led us to this," said Lester Snow from the California Department of Water Resources.

Adding to the problem is the endangered Delta smelt. Pumps carrying water from north to south have been limited by the courts to save that fish from extinction. Now farmers may soon have to make a choice.

"There's a concern in the San Joaquin Valley that the crops may have to be plowed up because of the reduced water supply," said Snow. "It's not just the tomato crop that you lose, it's the employment that's associated with the tomato crop."

While two water districts are already rationing, the governor called on every Californian to stop wasting water and use less to get us through year two of the drought.

"Just change habits. It's good for everybody. If we don't do that it, we're all going to suffer," said one water consumer, Tom DeChicchio.

If conservation doesn't work, statewide rationing could be ordered. But it's never been done before. That's a serious step because that means the drought is having an environmental and economic impact on our state.


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