California Governor Declares Drought State of Emergency

Original post by Growing Produce

With California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions.

“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” said Governor Brown. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”

In the State of Emergency declaration, Governor Brown directed state officials to assist farmers and communities that are economically impacted by dry conditions and to ensure the state can respond if Californians face drinking water shortages. The governor also directed state agencies to use less water and hire more firefighters and initiated a greatly expanded water conservation public awareness campaign.

In addition, the proclamation gives state water officials more flexibility to manage supply throughout California under drought conditions.

State water officials say that California’s river and reservoirs are below their record lows. Manual and electronic readings record the snowpack’s statewide water content at about 20% of normal average for this time of year.

The governor’s drought State of Emergency follows a series of actions the administration has taken to ensure that California is prepared for record dry conditions. In May 2013, Governor Brown issued an executive order to direct state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water and water rights. In December, the governor formed a drought task force to review expected water allocations, California’s preparedness for water scarcity and whether conditions merit a drought declaration. Earlier this week, the governor toured the Central Valley and spoke with growers and others impacted by California’s record dry conditions.

In response to Governor Brown’s declaration of a drought emergency today, Western Growers’ President and CEO Tom Nassif released the following statement:

“We appreciate the action taken by Governor Brown today. Drought conditions are wreaking havoc on farmers in California, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. The situation is dire and requires the full attention of state and federal leaders which is why the declaration is so important.

“We look to the Governor and the Obama Administration to take emergency actions to ensure speedy approval of any water transfers that are still possible. Just as importantly, if we are fortunate and California receives even a moderate amount of precipitation this year, we look to the Obama Administration to allow the state and federal water projects that convey water from the north to the south, to operate at the highest end of their discretion within the existing rules limiting water exports to protect fish species, when pulse flows reach the Delta.

“We continue to pray for rain and snow, and appreciate the support of our elected leaders during times like these when the forces of nature go against us.”