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Water district officials, farmers and environmentalists think it's just a matter of time before Gov. Brown declares a drought emergency.

Water rationing, fines for violations and help from federal officials with ways to save water will likely follow.

''It potentially brings more resources to the region," Bruce Reznik, Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League, said. " It's almost like declaring an emergency. So we could potentially get some federal resources which would be great so we could invest in conservation and other measures to reduce water."

In 1977, Brown, during his first gubernatorial term, called for 25 percent reduction in personal water use during the 1976-77 drought.

Reznik said, "It's possible they'll set some statewide standards, more often because there is so much local variation. It's really up to local cities, local water agencies. So you know, some might ban watering all together, some might allow it certain days per week, but you're going to have to hit certain metrics in moving forward."

In the 1991, after five years of drought conditions, Gov. Pete Wilson created a water bank that allowed Northern California farmers to sell water for use in arid parts of the state. This year, a drought declaration doesn't necessarily make money available for anyone suffering from the dry spell. But Reznik sees it as a wake-up call for Californians to start looking for ways to conserve water.

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