SAN FRANCISCO -- California Gov. Jerry Brown spoke to reporters on Friday morning to declare a drought emergency for the state, which had its driest year in recorded history in 2013.
"Today I'm declaring a drought in the state of California," said Brown. "We're facing perhaps the worst drought California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago."
Brown's declaration was mostly symbolic. The governor called for a 20 percent voluntary reduction in water use for all citizens "in both rural areas and cities." However, "we're certainly holding out for mandatory conservation," he said.
"There's not a government program that can totally compensate for the lack of rain," he said. "Hopefully it will rain eventually, but in the meantime we all have to do our part."
Brown's decision comes after months of pressure from lawmakers to declare a drought. The official announcement could affect how California's water is distributed and provide the basis for setting formal guidelines for farmers, businesses and residents to cut back.
The governor presented a graph showing the year's dismal precipitation, as well as photos comparing the Sierra Nevada snowpack today versus one year ago.
The culprit of the drought is a massive high-pressure zone off the West Coast that has been blocking Pacific storms for over a year. Eleven states including Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma and California have already been designated primary natural disaster areas by federal inspectors due to the drought.
At a press conference earlier this week, Brown signaled the announcement would be coming.
"It's coming within the next few days," he said. "But don't think that a letter from the governor's office is going to affect the rain."