Gov. Pete Wilson announced plans Friday for coping with the drought crisis, including statewide water rationing, creating a "water bank" and establishing a $100 million fund for conservation measures.
"I will not kid you: a drought of this magnitude will change the way we live. It will cause great inconvenience. It will cause anxiety. And it will cause some pain . . . and some real economic hardship. There is no getting around it - this is the time for real sacrifice," Wilson said.The Republican governor, accompanied by members of a "Drought Action Team" he created two weeks ago to produce a plan, announced the five-point program at a news conference.
Wilson directed every community to enact adequate water rationing plans as soon as possible to begin saving water.
"Most of us will have to cut back our water use by half," Wilson said.
He directed the state Department of Water Resources to report to him on the progress of the community plans in two weeks.
Wilson ordered the drought team of cabinet secretaries and state agency heads to establish a "water bank" to purchase water and sell it "to those who need it the most."
The water bank will hold some water in reserve for firefighting and other drastic needs, he said.
The governor said sellers of water would not jeopardize their water rights by supplying it for others. He also warned against any efforts at "price gouging," saying the state would be on guard against profiteers.
Wilson called for fish and wildlife protection against the ravages of the drought, including drilling wells in dried up wetlands and transporting fish from dwindling rivers to safer locations downstream.
"We can't make it rain, but we can mitigate the worst environmental effects of the drought," Wilson said.
He directed the state Department of Fish and Game to join with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to "do everything humanly possible to protect habitats and maintain minimum populations of fish and wildlife."
Wilson said he will sponsor legislation "on a fast track" to establish a $100 million drought action fund to make emergency loans to public and private agencies and provide technical help in conserving water and finding new supplies.