Washington, April 2 (IANS) For the first time in its history drought-ravaged California, which has been seen as America's richest state, has imposed mandatory water restrictions requiring residents, businesses and farms to reduce usage by 25 percent over the next nine months and has even ordered its expansive golf courses to use less water.
"It's a different world," State Governor Jerry Brown Brown said Wednesday as he issued an executive order asking cities and towns across California, nicknamed the Golden State for its clear, golden coastal sunsets over the Pacific, to cut usage by about 325,000 gallons.
"We're in a new era," Brown told reporters. "The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that's going to be a thing of the past."
"This historic drought demands unprecedented action," he said standing on a patch of dry, brown grass in the Sierra Nevada mountains that is usually blanketed by up to 5 feet of snow, according to CNN.
The action comes as the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which Californians rely on heavily during the summer for their water needs, is near a record low.
In addition, Brown's executive order will impose significant cuts in water use on campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes and replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with "drought tolerant landscaping."
A staggering 11 trillion gallons are needed for California to recover from the emergency, CNN reported citing an estimate based on NASA satellite data analysis of how much water the state's reserves lack.
The entire state faces at least a moderate drought and more than half of the state faces the worst category of dryness, called an exceptional drought, according to the US Drought Monitor.
Brown last year declared a state emergency, saying his constituents are facing "perhaps the worst drought that California has ever seen since records (began) about 100 years ago."
Last month, Brown unveiled an emergency $1 billion spending plan to tackle the state's historic drought.
As part of the changes, Brown said additional measures will crack down on water inefficiency as California enters the fourth year of a worsening water crisis, including directing the many golf courses dotting the state to use less water.
Commenting on the water crisis, the Sacramento Bee said "Brown is to be commended for heeding the alarm bells. But California's response to this slow-motion natural disaster has been nerve-wrackingly tentative until now."
"Groundwater reserves are dwindling. Hydroelectric turbines have slowed, lacking water to power them. Yosemite's Half Dome, typically snowbound in spring, is bald to the granite," it noted saying, "Time for California to wake up."