While extending drought emergency in 50 counties, California Governor Gavin Newsom asked the residents to reduce their water usage by 15% on Thursday. He urged Californians to save water by taking shorter showers, reducing activities such as irrigating lawns, and looking for possible leaks in plumbing systems.
"We are now two years into a drought, having just come out of a five-year drought that concluded just a few years ago," he said, deeming California's year as a "mega drought."
He said, "We're hopeful that ... people in the state of California will take that mindset they brought into the last drought and extend that forward with a 15 percent voluntary reduction, not only on residences, but industrial, commercial operations, and agricultural operations," AFP reported.
The counties in California that are under a water emergency are 42% of the state population, the Governor said.
The drought emergency affects mainly in northern and central California -- southern counties including Los Angeles and San Diego are not yet affected, nor is San Francisco.
"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," he said and added that he has allocated $5.1 billion in the budget to address the drought.
California's statewide reservoir storage by May end had just two-thirds of normal levels of water after consecutive years with very little rainfall and dry winter. It is likely that runoff levels could end up being drier than last year, according to the state-run Save Our Water website.
Conditions were exacerbated by last week's heat wave, which gripped much of the western United States and Canada, with more record temperatures expected for the coming weekend -- including up to 128 degrees F (53 degrees C) forecast in California's Death Valley.