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California governor declares drought emergency

California Governor Jerry Brown unveils his proposed 2014-15 state budget in Sacramento, California, January 9, 2014. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
California Governor Jerry Brown unveils his proposed 2014-15 state budget in Sacramento, California, January 9, 2014. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency on Friday, a move that will allow the parched state to seek federal aid as it grapples with what could turn out to be the driest year in recorded state history.

Brown appealed to Californians to keep a lid on water use with the aim of reducing overall consumption by 20 percent. He told reporters at a news conference that mandatory conservation programs may be initiated down the road.

"We can't make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California's drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas," Brown said in a statement.

"I've declared this emergency and I'm calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible."

(Reporting by Sarah McBride; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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