(06-04) 12:43 PDT Sacramento - --
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today declared a statewide drought and signed an executive order directing the state Department of Water Resources to quickly transfer water to areas with the most severe water shortages.
The executive order also calls on the state water department to coordinate with other state and federal agencies to assist water suppliers, identify risks to water supply and help farmers facing losses as a result of water shortages.
In addition, Schwarzenegger urged local water districts and agencies to promote water conservation and encouraged Californians to cut water usage by as much 20 percent.
The declaration comes after two years of below-average rainfall in California, low snowmelt runoff from the Sierra and the largest court-ordered water transfer restrictions in state history, the governor said.
"There is no more time to waste because nothing is more vital to protect our economy, our environment and our quality-of-life," Schwarzenegger said.
The governor also used the occasion to pitch his proposal for a $11.9 billion water bond that includes creating new dams, an idea that Democratic legislators have resisted.
But Schwarzenegger argued that California is desperately in need to building more water storage and improving water delivery systems to allow the state to better manage its water resources during dry years.
E-mail Matthew Yi at firstname.lastname@example.org.