May 12, 2021

California Drought Emergency Declaration Expands

The emergency declaration includes 41 of 58 counties. 

california groundwater

California Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded a drought emergency to the state. The declaration also seeks more than $6 billion in multiyear water spending, reported Associated Press.  

The emergency declaration includes 41 of 58 counties and covers 30% of California's nearly 40 million population. According to Newsom, a further expansion of the declaration is probable, as California is experiencing one of the warmest, driest springs on record.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, most of the state and the American West is in extensive drought, reported Associated Press. The expanded drought emergency declaration includes the counties in the Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Tulare Lake watersheds. 

"The hots are getting a lot hotter in this state, the dries are getting a lot drier," stated Newsom, reported Associated Press. "We have a conveyance system, a water system, that was designed for a world that no longer exists."

As a result, the governor is asking state lawmakers to approve what he said is a record $5.1 billion over four years for water projects and another $1 billion to assist Californians who are behind on their water bills, reported Associated Press.

Gov. Newsom’s proposed water spending includes $1.3 billion for drinking water and wastewater systems and $200 million would go to repair damaged canals. Other projects include: addressing groundwater cleanup, water recycling, fish and wildlife habitat, flood preparedness, weather forecasting, and agricultural water use, reported Associated Press.

Residents are being urged to limit their water use by limiting outdoor watering, checking for leaks, or taking shorter showers and turning off the water when washing dishes or brushing teeth.

On May 11, state water agencies, the California Water Data Consortium (Consortium) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced a partnership to make an open-source groundwater accounting platform freely available to help groundwater sustainability agencies manage the transition to sustainable supplies.

The open-source platform will enable water managers and landowners to track water supplies and use, create water budgets, model scenarios, and trade allocations of water within a district or basin, according to the California Department of Water Resources. 

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