Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday declared a drought emergency in California as the state struggled with the least amount of rainfall in its 153-year history, reservoirs levels fell and firefighters remained on high alert.
"We are in an unprecedented, very serious situation," said Brown, who asked California residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 20 percent. "Hopefully, it will rain eventually. But in the meantime, we have to do our part."
The drought declaration also streamlines the rules for water agencies to transfer extra water from one part of the state to another, easing shortages. It also directs the state to hire more seasonal firefighters, limits the landscaping of highways and raises public awareness.
Brown was governor in 1976 and 1977, one of California's most severe dry periods in the 20th century. The most recent extended drought was from 1987 to 1992.
The last governor to declare a drought emergency was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who did so during a period of low rainfall in 2008 and 2009. Brown lifted that declaration in 2011 after a wet winter.