Nope, no global warming here:
Gov. Jerry Brown, standing on a patch of brown grass in the Sierra Nevada that is usually covered with several feet of snow at this time of year, on Wednesday announced the first mandatory water restrictions in California history.
"It's a different world," he said. "We have to act differently."
Brown was on hand Wednesday as state officials took stock of historically abysmal levels of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada amid the state's grinding drought.
Brown ordered the California Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory restrictions to reduce water usage by 25%. The water savings are expected to amount to 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months.
Other elements of Brown's order would:
--Require golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscaped spaces to reduce water consumption.
--Replace 50 million square feet of lawn statewide with drought-tolerant landscaping as part of a partnership with local governments.
--Create a statewide rebate program to replace old appliances with more water- and energy-efficient ones.
--Require new homes to have water-efficient drip irrigation if developers want to use potable water for landscaping.
--Ban the watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.
--Call on water agencies to implement new pricing models that discourage excessive water use.
--Require agricultural to report more water usage information to the state so that regulators can better find waste and improper activities.
--Create a mechanism to enforce requirements that water districts report usage numbers to the state.
"It is such an unprecedented lack of snow," said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey Program. He's been attending the snowpack measurements since 1987 and said he had never before seen the ground barren of snow on April 1. "It's way below the records."