San Diego support for Gov. Brown's water restriction mandate - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego support for Gov. Brown's water restriction mandate

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and the San Diego County Water Authority said Wednesday they stand behind Gov. Jerry Brown's order that cities and towns across California implement mandatory restrictions to reduce water use by 25 percent.

"As the drought continues to grow in depth and duration, so must our efforts to increase water conservation and efficiency in every part of the state," Atkins said.

Brown issued his order Wednesday in response to the lowest Sierra snowpack ever recorded.

Mark Weston, chairman of the Water Authority Board of Directors, said the snowpack reading showed the urgent need for water conservation, both locally and statewide.

The governor accompanied state officials to the Lake Tahoe area, where water experts measured the snowpack, which is a major source of water for the state but has been severely depleted to the ongoing drought.

"Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow," Brown said. "This historic drought demands unprecedented action. Therefore, I'm issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible."

Brown also ordered the replacement of 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought-tolerant landscaping; the creation of a statewide rebate program for consumers who replace old appliances with more water-efficient models; mandatory reduction of water use at campuses and golf courses; and banning the use of potable water for irrigation at new homes and developments.

Local water agencies were also ordered to implement "conservation pricing," aimed at penalizing customers who overuse water.

"Our decimated snowpack shows that Gov. Brown is right to put these strong, mandatory steps in place," Atkins said. "Getting through this drought and future droughts to come will take a combination of immediate, short-range and long-term steps. The governor's order Wednesday is the right step at the right time."

Weston says the Water Authority, which receives water from the Metropolitan Water District and Colorado River and distributes it to local water districts, is still reviewing the governor's order but "will do everything possible" to help the region comply with the mandates.

"San Diego County has prepared prudently for drought conditions, but we are entering uncharted territory after four dry years coupled with record high temperatures," Weston said.

The SDCWA issued mandatory water use restrictions last July, including watering only at certain dates and times, fixing leaks within 72 hours and eliminating runoff from irrigation systems.

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