California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Tuesday declared a statewide drought emergency, telling residents it is "critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible."
Before Newsom's statewide proclamation, most of California's 58 counties were placed in a drought emergency in July. That month, with temperatures soaring, Newsom urged residents to reduce their water use by 15 percent, and the numbers have been slowly dropping — in July, water use decreased by 1.8 percent, and by 5 percent in August.
The State Water Resources Control Board will have the authority to impose emergency regulations to help save water, and if necessary may take measures like banning people from hosing down sidewalks or washing cars without shut-off nozzles, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Newsom's declaration comes one day after it was announced that for the water year ending on Sept. 30, California had its driest year since 1924, with 11.87 inches of rain and snow falling — well below the yearly average of about 23.58 inches. Forecasters expect storms will hit in parts of Northern and Central California in late October, and while this will help with fire conditions, it's estimated that 140 percent of average statewide precipitation is needed over the next year to achieve average statewide runoff. Read more at the Los Angeles Times.