California governor orders water restrictions; snowpack at record low

For the first time in California’s history, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered mandatory water restrictions on Wednesday to cut water usage by 25 percent across the state to deal with a years’ long drought.

“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” he said in a statement.

California had a statewide snowpack of only 6 percent by the end of March, the state’s Department of Water Resources earlier reported.

In the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the water content is lower than any other year on record dating back to 1950.

“What this suggests is that we will have very little water running off. It accentuates the severity of the drought and emphasizes the importance of people cutting back on their water use,” said Doug Carlson, the department’s spokesman.

The department plans to conduct a follow-up survey of 230 snow courses on Wednesday. Snowpack contributes about 30 percent of California’s water when it melts, the agency said.