| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Jan 30 California residents should
dramatically cut back on water use, the governor said on
Thursday, as the worst drought in nearly four decades threatened
agriculture, triggered bans on fishing and led to mandatory
rationing in some communities.
Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, urged residents to avoid
flushing their toilets unnecessarily and recommended turning off
the water while soaping up in the shower or shaving.
"Every day this drought goes on, we're going to tighten the
screws on what people are doing," said Brown, 75, who was also
governor during a severe drought in the 1970s. "Right now, it's
The situation was unprecedented, said Jeffrey Kightlinger,
general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California at a meeting with Brown on Thursday.
He said he would ask officials to declare a regional water
supply alert next week.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Kightlinger, who
also met with other water district officials. "We were in much
better shape in the 1977 drought."
That drought in 1977 "will be remembered as the driest year
in the state's recorded history," a state report said in 1978.
Brown's remarks on Thursday came as his administration tried
to ease the impact of the driest year on record for California,
the nation's most populous state, forcing it to close some
rivers and creeks to fishing.
On Tuesday, state health officials identified 17 communities
that will need to import water supplies from other parts of the
state, and promised assistance.
President Barack Obama spoke with Brown by telephone on
Wednesday and pledged his support, the governor said at a
meeting with water district officials in Los Angeles.
Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle were expected
to release their own, possibly competing, proposals on ways to
deal with the drought, including a call by Republicans in the
state Senate to sell bonds to build new reservoirs and other
mechanisms for storing water in wet years.
Rain was predicted for several parts of the state Thursday,
along with snow in the Sierra Nevada, but it was not clear that
the precipitation would bring enough water to significantly ease
the drought. By late morning, relatively little rain had fallen.
Earlier in the week, the state banned fishing in several
creeks and rivers in the state, in an effort to protect
migrating steelhead and salmon, whose efforts to spawn may
already be impeded by receding water levels.
"We fully understand the impact these closures will have on
California anglers and the businesses related to fishing in
California, and we really feel for them," Charlton H. Bonham,
director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said
in a statement late on Wednesday.
He called conditions for fish in the state's streams
"Under these extreme drought conditions, it is prudent to
conserve and protect as many adult fish as possible to help
ensure the future of fishing in California," Bonham said.
During the drought in the '70s, Brown had urged strong
conservation measures, even asking residents to avoid flushing
their toilets when only liquid waste was present.
Remedies he had implemented at the time included property
tax reliefs for ranchers and farmers and the setting up of a
water bank, so that communities in need of water could buy it
from those who had excess.
(Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento and
Laila Kearney in San Francisco; Writing by Sharon Bernstein;
Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bernadette Baum)