Gov. Schwarzenegger Declares Statewide Drought

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Governor Schwarzenegger has declared a statewide drought. He told reporters in Sacramento that for two years, snow levels in the Sierras have been lower than normal and rainfall statewide has been meager. KPCC's Julie Small reports that the Governor is taking steps to make sure California sips instead of gulps.

Julie Small: Governor Schwarzenegger ordered state water agencies to move supplies to the most drought-stricken areas, where crops are threatened. The governor urged Californians to conserve water. And he challenged state lawmakers to pass stalled legislation to build dams, reservoirs, and underground water storage.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: Farmers and business people, ordinary people, everybody is suffering when we have no water. So this is why I think Democrats and Republicans must get together and solve this problem once and for all.

Small: And he said if they don't...

Schwarzenegger: It's going to get worse!

Small: The huge Southern California supplier, the Metropolitan Water District, started rationing agricultural supplies in January. Long Beach has already placed limits on water customers. But the governor stopped short of ordering statewide rationing. Water Resources Director Lester Snow says it's too early for that.

Lester Snow: The purpose of taking this executive order and this announcement is actually to avoid the very thing that you're bringing up, where we have to be on statewide rationing, because that means there is serious environmental nad economic harm that has already taken place.

Small: Snow says, by starting to conserve now, California will be better prepared next year, if the drought continues.