Can we conserve our way out of the drought?

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As California enters its fourth year of severe drought, the state is getting serious about water conservation. Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers revealed a $1 billion drought relief plan Thursday. The package includes money for water recycling, water efficiency measures, and food assistance for communities impacted by the drought. (The LA Times breaks down the funding, here).

In a press conference, Gov. Jerry Brown said that the state government is working together to tackle the problem. “It’s not a partisan problem, it’s a real problem, a hydrological challenge,” he said. People need to “do more.”

When pressed to move more quickly, the governor said, “When you’re piloting a huge battleship, it turns slowly in the water,” adding, “People are going to do more and it’s going to be painful.”

Gov. Brown put a lot of the weight on the State Water Board, which instituted new emergency water restrictions yesterday. This included restrictions on watering lawns (three days in some cities, two in others); and not automatically giving diners water at restaurants.

Clearly, this isn’t enough to lift California out of the worst drought in decades, but every drop helps. These measures, in particular, “help build awareness to make sure everyone really understands the severity of the situation,” climate change mitigation strategist at the State Water Resources Control Board, Max Gomberg told Which Way, LA?

According to Which Way, LA? there are currently four water cops out there monitoring Los Angeles; and much of the burden is on Angelenos to act on their own.

Gomberg also talked to Madeleine Brand on Press Play, describing the severity of the drought. “Our sierra snowpack, which is our reservoir, is down at historic lows,” he said. Adding that the measure ensure we’re “getting every last drop that we could out of the urban sector.”

Here are the new restrictions from the State Water Board:

What’s Prohibited for Everyone

Potable water to wash sidewalks
Runoff when irrigating with potable water
Hoses with no shutoff nozzles to wash cars
Potable water in decorative water features that do not recirculate the water

What Water Suppliers Must Do
Impose restrictions on outdoor irrigation
Report on water use monthly