California governor declares drought emergency

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Monica Soares fixes the chain on her bicycle on part of the dry lake bed at Folsom Lake near Folsom, Calif., Thursday Jan. 9, 2014.  Gov. Jerry Brown said he would meet Thursday with his recently formed drought task force to determine if an emergency declaration is necessary as California faces a serious water shortage. Reservoirs in the state have dipped to historic lows after one of the driest calendar years on record.  While still more than 100 yards from the waters edge, Soares is in a spot usually covered in water. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

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)