While at the annual April 1st Sierra snowpack measurement, California Governor Jerry Brown announced an executive order directing the State Water Resources Control Board to work with local agencies to reduce water use statewide by 25 percent. In response to the ongoing drought, it's the first set of mandatory water restrictions in state history.
According to officials, the order will impose water cutbacks for everyone from homeowners, to farmers, golf courses, campuses, and cemeteries. Punitive measures such as fines could be the price of noncompliance. The order would also create a statewide rebate program to replace old appliances with more water-efficient options, ban the watering of grass on public street medians, ask water agencies to implement new pricing models to discourage overuse of water, and regulate agricultural reports of water use.
As the New York Times reports, the measurement in the Sierras is typically about five or six feet at this time of year, but today the field beneath Brown's feet was dry. “This is the new normal,” he said, “We will learn how to cope with this.” The LA Times writes that the snowpack is, according to early data, lower than any year since 1950, back when record keeping began, and estimates that snowpack accounts for 30 percent of the state's water.
You can read the executive order here.