Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened Monday to impose mandatory water restrictions if residents don’t use less on their own as a drought drags on and the hotter summer months approach.
Newsom raised that possibility in a meeting with representatives from major water agencies, including those that supply Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area, his office said in a press release.
The governor has avoided issuing sweeping, mandatory cuts in water use and instead favored an approach that gives local water agencies power to set rules for water use in the cities and towns they supply.
January through March typically is when most of California’s annual rain and snow falls, but this year those months were the driest in at least a century. Despite calls for conservation, the state’s water use went up dramatically in March — 19% compared to the same month in 2020 — and now Newsom is considering changing his approach.
“Every water agency across the state needs to take more aggressive actions to communicate about the drought emergency and implement conservation measures,” Newsom said in a statement.
California is in its third year of drought and virtually all areas of the state are classified as either in severe or extreme drought.
Newsom last summer called on Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15% by doing things like taking five-minute showers and avoiding baths, only running the washing machine and dishwasher with full loads and limiting water use for cleaning outdoor areas.
But residents have fallen far short of the goal – using more water rather than cutting back.