California governor declares drought emergency

BY Alexis Cox  January 17, 2014 at 4:10 PM EDT

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency in his state. Brown said it’s the worst dry spell in the state’s recorded history.

The move now paves the way for federal assistance as California faces its third straight dry winter. The proclamation also expedites much-needed water transfers between different regions of the state.

At a news conference in San Francisco, Brown appealed to residents to conserve at least 20% of their water.

“We are in a unprecedented, very serious situation and people should pause and reflect on how dependent we are on the rain, on nature, and one another.”-Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif.

With no prospect of rain on the horizon, the governor also left open the possibility of imposing a mandatory water conservation order in the future.

In the meantime, the parched conditions are also fueling wildfires. One blaze is now burning in the foothill suburbs northeast of Los Angeles, forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes. So far it’s only 30% contained.

H/T Alexis Cox