Amid drought, California government cuts water use

Mud cracks in a drying creek bed.
Mud cracks in a drying creek bed.
Photo by hikinghillman via Flickr Creative Commons

State agencies in drought-afflicted California are trying to lead by example and reduce water use by the same 20 percent that residents have been asked to save.

While the cuts are not mandatory, some departments have proposed measures that should save billions of gallons.

The state Department of Transportation says it can save half of the irrigation water it uses, mostly on highway vegetation.

That translates into 6 billion gallons a year of savings - more than enough to fill a pool 10 feet deep, one mile wide and two miles long.

Other changes are largely symbolic.

Decorative fountains at some state properties have been drained. And state fire engines and cars will get washed only when rain cleans them - unless they need a scrub down for safety reasons.