SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – The iconic grizzly bear on the California state flag has been reimagined as a camel, a tongue in cheek image that advocates of sustainable water use hope will convey a serious message about the severity of the drought.

The majestic grizzly bear with its paws on green grass has been replaced by a single humped camel with its feet in the sand, an image the California Water Foundation hopes will become a wake-up call about how much the state’s water supply has diminished over the last three years.

“Well over ninety percent of the state is in serious or extreme drought conditions,” said Andrew Fahlund, the foundation’s deputy director.

“We’re starting to see fish kills and birds dying off as a result of this, so it really does affect every farm, every city and every ecosystem in the state.”

The picture of the flag was sent to state legislators in August as the group, which awards grants for sustainable water use projects, lobbied for a package of bills to regulate groundwater pumping. As that legislation awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, the foundation has turned its attention to lobbying for a $7 billion water infrastructure bond on the November ballot.

“We’re quite supportive of the bond measure,” Fahlund said, adding that the message behind the animal swap on the state flag will remain relevant until the drought ends.

“It’s not currently flying anywhere,” he said, “but we’re certainly open to suggestions.”

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