Associated Press -
Tustin, CA - Gary Whitlock watched water run to a sidewalk as gardeners hosed down a bed of marigolds outside an Orange County office building and questioned whether California's latest attempt to curb water use would be any more successful than previous efforts in the drought-stricken state.
"You see people that just run water all the time, people that are watering their lawns, parks that are not using recycled water," Whitlock said. "This has been going on for years, and everybody that I talk to says, 'Oh, well, you know, it's going to rain."
Whitlock's observation came after Gov. Jerry Brown ordered sweeping unprecedented measures on Wednesday to save water in California as he stood in a brown meadow typically blanketed in snow.
Surveyors that day found the lowest water level in the Sierra Nevada snowpack in 65 years of record-keeping, signaling the fourth consecutive year of vanishing snow that California depends on to melt into rivers and replenish reservoirs.
The governor's order requires cities and towns to cut water use by 25 percent. So far in the current drought, many Californians have not made changes to their daily routines to save water or taken a hit in their wallets because of it.
Critics of the Democratic governor said his order does not go far enough to address agriculture - the biggest water user in California.
Early in 2014, Brown called for a 20 percent voluntary cutback, but the state achieved half of that.
In recent years, cities have developed storage capacity and supplies to soften the blow of future dry years - a move that has insulated residents from the severity of the current drought.
In 1977, Brown asked for a voluntary 25 percent cut in water use during his first term as governor.
Nearly 40 years later, he warns that drought might be the new normal as he ramps up efforts to adapt. His executive order on Wednesday directed officials to impose statewide mandatory water restrictions and expand programs intended to reshape how Californians use water.