I'm guessing that water czars are willing to sacrifice some agriculture business now in case the drought runs for several years. There doesn't seem to be a Plan B of what to do if California runs out of water completely, so they may hope to forestall a California of ghost towns and cities by stretching the current quantity as far as it will go.
Today the Governator moved toward future restrictions: Schwarzenegger declares Calif. drought emergency, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb 28, 2009.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Friday because of three years of below-average rain and snowfall in California, a step that urges urban water agencies to reduce water use by 20 percent.In addition, the salmon run has failed for a second year, partially because of the deteriorating quality of the state's waterways due to so many demands. Thirty-eight million people need a lot of water.
"This drought is having a devastating impact on our people, our communities, our economy and our environment, making today's action absolutely necessary," the Republican governor said in his statement.
Mandatory rationing is an option if the declaration and other measures are insufficient.
The drought has forced farmers to fallow their fields, put thousands of agricultural workers out of work and led to conservation measures in cities throughout the state, which is the nation's top agricultural producer.
Agriculture losses could reach $2.8 billion this year and cost 95,000 jobs, said Lester Snow, the state water director. [...]
At least 25 water agencies throughout the state already have imposed mandatory restrictions, while 66 others have voluntary measures in place.
California reservoirs (like Lake Shasta shown below, now at 31 percent capacity, down from 74 percent in 2007) have the low-down overpopulation blues.