Drivers across California saw a new message on freeway electronic signs Tuesday:

"SERIOUS DROUGHT

HELP SAVE WATER"

For the first time Caltrans posted a drought advisory statewide as part of an educational campaign urging all Californians to conserve water. The alert went up on more than 700 freeway signs.

"Caltrans has already taken action to sharply restrict water usage," said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty in a news release. "Using our highway message signs, we are asking California's 24 million drivers to join us in this important effort."

With California facing its driest year on record, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency last month and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages.

Caltrans is responsible for 30,000 acres of irrigated landscaping and this month will cut statewide irrigation activities by at least 50 percent, delay all new landscaping projects in severely impacted areas until the next rainy season, postpone all nonessential highway planting and use recycled water for irrigation and other activities whenever possible.

Contact Gary Richards at 408-920-5335.