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CA Drought: Some Fear Environmental Rulings May Evaporate

June 6, 2008

Governor Schwarzenegger's declaration of a statewide drought this week has conservation groups worried about the impact it will have on some hallmark environmental rulings. Californians are being told to prepare for dry days ahead, setting the stage for drastic cutbacks and the diversion of water to areas that need it the most. The governor warns the state's water supply is dangerously low after two years of below-average rainfall and court-ordered water restrictions to protect endangered fish.

Laura Harnish, regional director of the , says her group agrees efforts must be made to reduce water usage, but also fears that hard-fought environmental rulings will be eliminated.

"Any time you're planning in a crisis situation, you make decisions that you might not make when you are feeling like you have a little more of a buffer. I've been comparing it to grocery shopping when you're hungry."

Harnish says the drought declaration will force Californians to focus on solutions, such as using water more efficiently and utilizing existing ground water storage.

"We've got climate change coming and a very big, and growing, population. We need to think and act creatively about how we want to use our limited water supply to have a thriving California economy."

While long-term solutions are needed, Harnish adds, none of the big water supply projects the governor is proposing can be completed quickly enough to solve immediate needs. That's why it's important, she says, for Californians to takes steps to conserve water now.

The governor wants the legislature to approve $12 billion in water bonds to repair and modernize the state's water infrastructure. More information is available online, at www.edf.org, and gov.ca.gov.

Lori Abbott/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - CA