Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Brown's executive order: How ag is affected

Amid a wide-reaching executive order today, Gov. Jerry Brown told state water regulators to require more frequent reporting of water diversions and use by water rights holders, conduct inspections and crack down further on illegal diversions and wasteful use of water.

Agricultural water providers serving more than 10,000 acres are required to develop drought management plans that detail how the districts "strike a balance between supplies and demand," said Mark Cowin, director of the state Department of Water Resources.

Additionally, local water agencies in high- and medium-risk groundwater basins must immediately implement a groundwater monitoring program.

"It's obvious that we're clearly in a drought that we've not seen before, and neither have our parents or grandparents, so we have to take measures we haven't taken before," State Water Resources Control Board chairwoman Felicia Marcus said in a conference call with reporters.

The ag-related measures come amid instructions from Brown that mostly center around urban water use, including a requirement that cities reduce their consumption by 25 percent compared to 2013 levels and that state and local agencies replace 50 million square feet of lawns with drought-tolerant landscapes.

"Last year the governor asked all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent, but unfortunately many haven't stepped up to meet that goal," said Mark Ghilarducci, director of California's Office of Emergency Services. "Now with no snow in the mountains and with reservoirs getting lower by the day, it's really time to do more."

For my complete story on the order's impact on ag and the state's responses to critics, check soon.

The photo is of Brown watching Frank Gehrke, the DWR's chief of snow surveys, as he conducted a manual snow survey today at Echo Summit east of Sacramento. It was provided by DWR.

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