Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) warned Californians on Monday that mandatory water restrictions might be in store this summer if they don’t significantly reduce consumption.
“Every water agency across the state needs to take more aggressive actions to communicate about the drought emergency and implement conservation measures,” Newsom said during a meeting with leaders from the state’s largest urban water suppliers.
Last July, Newsom declared a drought emergency and called upon Californians to voluntarily cut their water use by 15 percent. But by the end of March 2022, after the state failed to meet this goal, the governor issued an executive order asking local agencies to boost their response to the ongoing drought, according to his office.
The governor said that local water agencies have pushed for increased flexibility on water conservation and drought response according to regional water needs, arguing that such approaches would be more effective than statewide mandates.
While Newsom acknowledged that he embraced this approach, he called upon water agencies on Monday to step up their efforts amid extreme drought conditions.
If this localized conservation strategy fails to prove sufficient this summer, Newsom warned that the state could be forced to enact mandatary restrictions.
California’s State Water Resources Control Board is set to vote on a statewide ban on watering non-functional turf in commercial, industrial and institutional settings on Tuesday, the governor’s office noted.
The vote will also include a measure requiring local agencies to implement water use restricts, amid the possibility that supplies could be 20 percent lower as a result of extreme weather, a statement from Newsom’s office added.
“Californians made significant changes since the last drought but we have seen an uptick in water use, especially as we enter the summer months,” Newsom said. “We all have to be more thoughtful about how to make every drop count.”