Friday, January 17, 2014

California Declares Drought Emergency

Jerry Brown
California Governor Jerry Brown officially declared a drought emergency in the state today, urging residents to cut water use by 20% and directing state agencies to take a range of steps to ease the effects of water shortages on agriculture, communities and fish and wildlife.  Brown's drought proclamation follows California's driest year on record and comes amid dropping reservoir levels and no sign of relief in the near future.

Some Northern California communities dependent on shrinking local supplies have already imposed rationing and others are asking residents to eliminate outdoor watering. Many Central Valley irrigation districts are warning growers to expect severe delivery cuts this spring and summer.

The detailed, 20-point drought declaration calls on California agencies to launch a statewide conservation campaign, expedite voluntary water transfers by rights holders to districts in need of supplies and hire additional seasonal firefighters this year to respond to elevated wildfire risk.

The proclamation allows state agencies to ease requirements for reservoir releases related to downstream water quality and directs them to monitor groundwater levels.
The declaration stops short of statewide mandatory rationing.

The last statewide drought declaration was issued in 2009 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since 1987, there have been 13 emergency proclamations, most of them for a part of the state, and three executive orders related to drought, according to the water resources department.  (L.A. Times, 1/17/2014)

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