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Newsom Asks Californians To Conserve Water As Drought Emergency Expands To 9 More Counties

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging Californians to conserve water in a newly expanded emergency declaration.

The governor's emergency proclamation was widened Thursday to add nine more counties, including San Luis Obispo County, where Newsom spoke to reporters.

"We are encouraging people to do common sense things, like reducing the amount of irrigation water you're doing out on your lawns for example, reducing, perhaps the amount of time you're in a shower -- not eliminating that time, we're not here as a nanny state. We're not trying to be oppressive, again, these are voluntary standards."

The manager of the state's power grid issued a Flex Alert Thursday evening calling for voluntary energy conservation from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday in hopes of reducing strain on the system during anticipated high heat.

A total of 50 out of California's 58 counties are now under a drought emergency, which so far excludes Southern California.

Newsom signed an executive order Thursday, calling on Californians to reduce water usage by 15% through actions like watering lawns less, running dishwashers and washing machines only at full capacity, finding and fixing leaks, taking shorter showers and installing water-efficient showerheads and faucets. Such actions could save as much as 850,000 acre-feet of water over the next year, enough to supply more than 1.7 million households for a year.

Californians evidently made some water conservation habits developed during the 2012-2016 drought permanent, as urban water usage today is approximately 16% less on average across the state than it was in 2013, according to state officials.

With climate change making drought conditions even worse for the foreseeable future, Newsom has proposed $5.1 billion in water resiliency investments over the next four years, which would include addressing drinking water challenges in smaller, disadvantaged communities; support sustainable groundwater projects, and fund projects that improve ecosystem health for native fish and other wildlife.

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