California Governor Jerry Brown during a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. March 19, 2015, to announce a $1 billion emergency legislative package to deal with the state's drought.
Photo by Max Whittaker/Reuters

Jerry Brown on California drought: ‘Climate change is not a hoax’

California Gov. Jerry Brown said on Sunday the water rations he imposed in the wake of an historic drought should serve as a “wake-up call” not just for residents of his home state but everyone.

“I can tell you, from California, climate change is not a hoax,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re dealing with it, and it’s damn serious.”

Brown mandated a 25% cut in the Western state’s water consumption in an executive order signed on Wednesday. The emergency actions also planned for the addition of “drought tolerant landscaping” to 50 million square miles of California lawns.

“It’s requiring action and changes in behavior from the Oregon border all the way to the Mexican border,” Brown said of his mandate. “It affects lawns. It affects people’s – how long they stay in the shower, how businesses use water.”

Those who don’t comply with the law can be fined up to $500 a day and face potential action in court.

ABC anchor Martha Raddatz pressured Brown on criticisms that the new requirements he placed on California’s agricultural industry, which uses a reported 80% of the state’s water, were soft. To put this into perspective, Raddatz reported that more water is being used for almond production than by the combined businesses and homes of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“They’re not watering their lawn or taking long showers,” Brown said in response. “They’re providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America to a significant part of the world.”

The governor also pointed his finger at the federal government, arguing that farmers aren’t getting any allocation from the federal central water project, which he claims hasn’t previously happened.

“Of course we can shut it off. If you don’t want to produce any food and import it from some other place, theoretically, you could do that,” Brown said. “But that would displace hundreds of thousands of people.”

Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA, predicted last month that California had only one year of water left. “As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water – and the problem started before our current drought,” he wrote in an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times. 

4/1/15, 4:04 PM ET

The California Drought: in pictures

A look at the drought in California through photography of the state’s landmarks before and after the drought began.
A look at the drought in California through photography of the state’s landmarks before and after the drought began.