Governor Gavin Newsom has placed 50 of California’s 58 counties under a drought emergency order, and the number may grow. The latest to join the order are those located north of the Tehachapi mountains. This includes Marin, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Inyo, Santa Barbara and Santa Clara counties.

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“Those are the effects of climate change. It’s here, and it’s human-induced,” Newsom said, as reported by ABC. “I think in the state of California, we’ve moved beyond the debate and are moving toward finding a solution.”

Related: California farmers find ways to work with less water

Instead of mandating and enforcing water restrictions, Newsom is asking for people to voluntarily comply. The goal: reduce water usage by 15%. This goes for agricultural and industrial uses, as well as residential. “We’re hopeful that the people in the state of California will take that mindset that they saw in the last drought and take that forward,” Newsom said. California has allocated $5.1 billion to deal with the drought, including emergency response and investing in the state’s water infrastructure.

California’s largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, hold less than half their usual amount of water, according to the state Department of Water Resources. Both lakes are in Northern California. Southern California is currently faring better, with Castaic Lake at 58% of its average level, and Lake Perris with notably more water than it usually holds this time of year.

Last year’s dry winter means California fell below its usual snow total. Pair that with extreme heat, and you have severe wildfire risk this summer.

For those who want to think of new ways to save water during the California droughtSave Our Water has conservation tips for your home and yard. If you tend to do many small loads of laundry, leave the water on while brushing your teeth or enjoy hosing down your sidewalk, consult this site immediately for alternatives and advice.


Lead image via Pixabay