California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday significantly expanded his April 21 drought emergency proclamation to include Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Tulare Lake Watershed counties where accelerated action is needed to protect public health, safety and the environment. In total, 41 of the state’s 58 counties are now under a drought state of emergency. Those regions represent 30% of the state’s approximately 40 million residents, though drought declarations there could have a much broader impact.
Newsom didn’t issue any mandatory drought conservation measures which could force urban Californians to curtail outdoor usage. But those measures are “are on the table” if there is another dry winter, said California’s Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, per the Sacramento Bee.
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Crowfoot warned that Newsom’s declaration declaration could lead to orders from the state water board that would curtail farmers and others from pulling water from rivers that feed into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the hub of the California water delivery network. He said water has to flow through to the ocean to flush salinity out of the system.
Climate change-induced early warm temperatures and extremely dry soils have further depleted the expected runoff water from the Sierra-Cascade snowpack, resulting in historic and unanticipated reductions in the amount of water flowing to major reservoirs, especially in Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Tulare Lake Watershed counties.
“With the reality of climate change abundantly clear in California, we’re taking urgent action to address acute water supply shortfalls in northern and central California while also building our water resilience to safeguard communities in the decades ahead,” said Governor Newsom. “We’re working with local officials and other partners to protect public health and safety and the environment, and call on all Californians to help meet this challenge by stepping up their efforts to save water.”
In April, Governor Newsom signed an emergency proclamation directing state agencies to take immediate action to bolster drought resilience across the state and declaring a State of Emergency in Mendocino and Sonoma counties due to severe drought conditions in the Russian River Watershed. Today, the Governor took action to ensure an expedited response to address acute drought impacts in Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Tulare Lake Watershed counties.
Today’s drought emergency proclamation adds the following 39 counties: Del Norte, Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity, Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Modoc, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba counties. Additionally, the proclamation provides new authority for the existing drought emergency announced on April 21 for Mendocino and Sonoma counties.