Capitol Alert

VIDEO: See how bad California’s snowpack is

Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, and Gov. Jerry Brown walk across a dry meadow that is usually covered in several inches of snow as the state conducts a snow survey near Echo Summit, Calif., Wednesday, April 1, 2015.
Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, and Gov. Jerry Brown walk across a dry meadow that is usually covered in several inches of snow as the state conducts a snow survey near Echo Summit, Calif., Wednesday, April 1, 2015. AP

When Gov. Jerry Brown called for a voluntary, 25 percent reduction in water use during a drought in 1977, he replaced a pitcher of water at a news conference with a cup.

“We have only one glass of water,” Brown said at the time, “which is an indication of our effort here.”

Decades later and in another drought, Brown on Wednesday ordered water reductions of 25 percent in cities and towns across the state. This time, the order was mandatory, not voluntary.

Also, no cups.

Instead, Brown’s prop was a pole.

In a windbreaker and hiking boots in a dry meadow in the Sierra Nevada, Brown joined state water officials Wednesday for a measurement of the state’s meager snowpack. They brought a pole marking accumulations from previous visits.

This year is historically bad, as Frank Gehrke, chief of snow surveys for the California Department of Water Resources, demonstrated here:

Brown’s appearance at the snowpack survey was a first for a California governor, according to the administration. Brown has come under increasing pressure to act as the state enters its fourth year of drought, and he has made himself more visible on the issue in recent weeks.

Some of these steps are small. While Gehrke was speaking to reporters Wednesday, a microphone fell to the ground.

It was Brown who bent and picked it up.

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.

  Comments