Matt Weiser & David Siders, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
Standing in a dry brown meadow that typically would be buried in snow this time of year, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday ordered the first mandatory water cutbacks in California history, a directive that will affect cities and towns statewide.
With new measurements showing the state’s mountain snowpack at a record low, officials said California’s drought is entering uncharted territory and certain to extend into a fourth straight year. As a result, Brown issued sweeping new directives to reduce water consumption by state residents, including a mandatory 25 percent cut in urban water use.
On Wednesday, Brown attended a routine snow survey at 6,800 feet in the Sierra Nevada, near Echo Summit on Highway 50 along the road to Lake Tahoe. The April 1 survey is an annual ritual, marking the end of the winter season, in which automated sensors and technicians in the field strive to measure how much water the state’s farms and cities will receive from snowmelt.
The measurements showed the snowpack at just 5 percent of average for April 1, well below the previous record low of 25 percent, which was reached last year and in 1977.