WASHINGTON— Environmentalists warn the world is facing serious water shortages and the United States is no exception. While parts of the country may get too much snow and rain, that is not the case in the southwest. California has been dealing with the effects of drought for more than two years. The state governor has ordered a mandatory reduction of water usage to prevent waste. The state is also looking into new technologies that will make California more drought resistant.
While the U.S. Midwest and East Coast struggled with record snowfalls this winter, California experienced its lowest snowpack in recent history.
"We're in a historic drought and that demands unprecedented action, and for that reason I'm issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state," said California governor Jerry Brown.
The executive order issued by the governor Wednesday requires the State Water Resources Control Board to reduce water use by 25 percent across California. Governor Brown said 38 million people will be affected. The measure is expected to save hundreds of thousands of liters of water over nine months.
The mandatory water rationing is unprecedented in the United States, and some Californians are against it, saying that water saving should be voluntary. But previous measures to fight a persistent drought have not improved the situation. The governor warned residents to be prepared to change their lifestyle.
“The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day - that's going to be a thing of the past, and we're not going to change everything overnight, but we are in a transition period," said Brown.
The transition already has started in extremely hot parts of southern California. Instead of watering their lawns to keep them green during the summer, many homeowners are now hiring companies that will paint them green.
"You don't have to water it as much with the drought and everything; we're all supposed to conserve water. This is a good idea," said Marta Gomez, a homeowner.
A Lucky Lawn company, specializing in spray painting dried-out lawns, claims the paint is actually good for the grass because it protects the blades from harmful ultra-violet rays.
"[It’s] 100 percent non-toxic. Once it's dry, animals, kids, the whole family can go out and enjoy the yard," said Drew Mclellan, founder of A Lucky Lawn.
California farmers are especially affected by the drought. A group of mathematicians is trying to help.
“A person's going to want to try to make as much profit as possible using the least amount of water, while meeting the demands from the market. And so, as mathematicians, one of the things we were hoping to offer was a different way of looking at a problem. What can we plant? What’s the rotation strategy?" asked Kathleen Fowler, a mathematician working on the problem.
Governor Brown said California is a pioneering state where people have come together to build a better life, and that, he said, requires conservation, collaboration and innovation.