California Governor Declares Statewide Drought Emergency

The declaration applies to all of California's 58 counties, with agencies and households urged to implement stricter conservation measures as the historic drought deepens.

2 minute read

October 24, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

California State Water project

Aaron Kohr / Shutterstock

Declaring a statewide drought emergency on Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom urged Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water "[a]s the western U.S. faces a potential third year of drought." Ian James reports that "[t]he declaration came as state water officials announced that Californians had cut their water usage by 5% in August, a modest improvement over July, when water use decreased by 1.8%." The governor's proclamation allows the State Water Resources Control Board to potentially "adopt emergency regulations to prohibit wasting water, such as hosing down sidewalks or driveways, allowing drinking water to flood gutters or streets, or washing a car without a shut-off nozzle."

While most of California was already under a state of drought emergency, "Newsom’s proclamation added the last eight remaining counties, and further bolstered his call for everyone to voluntary reduce water use by 15%." The state faces a growing "moisture deficit," and "an estimated 140% of average statewide precipitation would be needed in the coming year to achieve average statewide runoff."

The board of directors for Metropolitan Water District of Southern California—a region that is home to more than half of the state's population—"will consider next month whether to urge member water agencies across Southern California 'to implement mandatory conservation in their communities, as outlined in their water shortage contingency plans.'"

In addition to saving water, a report found that "improving water-use efficiency in urban areas offers the greatest potential for reducing water-related energy use and emissions that contribute to global warming."

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 in Los Angeles Times

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