Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Wednesday issued an executive order proclaiming a statewide drought.

“For the areas in Northern California that supply most of our water, this March, April, and May have been the driest ever in our recorded history,” the governor said in a statement. “As a result, some local governments are rationing water, developments can’t proceed, and agricultural fields are sitting idle. We must recognize the severity of the crisis we face, so I am signing an executive order proclaiming a statewide drought and directing my Department of Water Resources and other entities to take immediate action to address the situation.”

The executive order empowers the DWR to facilitate water transfers to respond to emergency shortages across the state; work with local water districts and agencies to improve local coordination; help local water districts and agencies improve water efficiency and conservation; coordinate with other state and federal agencies and departments to assist water suppliers, identify risks to water supply, and help farmers suffering losses; and expedite existing grant programs to help local water districts and agencies conserve.

The Department of Water Resources final snow survey of 2008 found that the water content of the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains was only 67% of normal and the runoff forecast at only 55% of normal. The previous winter was below average as well.

The circumstances are a reminder that California needs to invest in infrastructure, said Schwarzenegger, who has thus far unsuccessfully lobbied for a major water bond package.

“We must work together to ensure that California will have safe, reliable, and clean water not only today but 20, 30, and 40 years from now,” he said.

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