09 April, 2015
The state of California is taking steps to deal with dry weather. Governor Jerry Brown announced last week that Californians must reduce their water use by 25 percent because of a lack of rainfall and snow.
Some local communities are developing new restrictions on water use.
This is California's fourth year of below-average rainfall since 2012. The lack of rain and snow has created moderate to extreme drought conditions across the state.
Bill McDonald is with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. He says the new restrictions should help.
"Right now, we rely on a lot of snow and rain, and that's not happening."
Some of the state's water comes from northern California. It moves through aqueducts, or waterways, to the farm-rich Central Valley and water-hungry cities in the south. Farms use 80 percent of the state's water to produce much of the nation's fruit, vegetables and nuts.
In general, farmers are not required to follow the new water restrictions. But many growers have already faced cuts to the amount of water they can take from public water supplies. They now pump groundwater for crops, and eventually will face more limitations on using it.
Catrin Chappelle works for the Public Policy Institute of California. She thinks the public wants even stronger measures to control water use.
"Our recent survey asked the question, ‘do you think local and state government is doing enough about the drought?' And we saw the majority say, ‘no.'"
Some of the new measures are already in place. Restaurants will face fines if they offer water to people who have not asked for it. Gilberto Cetina owns a restaurant in Los Angeles. He says the restrictions will save more than just drinking water.
"It's the water, it's the ice, the electricity you use to make the ice, the cup when you give the water or, if you use glasses, the water you use to wash the glass."
Some Californians say they are prepared to help. State resident Nicole Dura plans to cut back on the amount of water she uses.
"We can just do what we can – we turn off the water, and between brushing our teeth."
Golf courses and other major water users will face new restrictions. Local communities are writing rules to reach the 25 percent reduction by next year.
Bill McDonald notes that California homeowners are being paid to remove grass from their property. He says homeowners are now being urged to grow drought-tolerant native plants and add drip irrigation systems.
"And that's the future. That's where we're going, because putting drinking water on a landscape that's ornamental is not a good use of resources."
Other water restrictions will be coming for businesses, public agencies and California residents. Local communities and utility companies are tightening rules under appeals from the state.
Experts say there is no single solution to the state's water shortage. But they say education, better planning and stronger measures can help the state deal with its periodic droughts.
I'm Anne Ball.
This report was based on a story from VOA's Mike O'Sullivan in Los Angeles. George Grow wrote it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
water – n. the liquid that falls from the sky as rain or is found in lakes, rivers and oceans
moderate – adj. not extreme
fruit – n. food from trees and plants
vegetables – n. plants grown for food
measure(s) – n. an action taken; a legislative proposal