Environment

State Emergency Declared Because of Drought in California

Written by Vincent Cain

Governor Newson declared a drought emergency across the entire state of California today, as water conservation efforts are falling short of the state’s targets.

The governor has also authorized California’s water regulators to ban the use of water in wasteful ways, such as spraying down public sidewalks. He also directed the Office of Emergency Services to fund drinking water as necessary. Newsom has not, however, issued any statewide mandates on the conservation of water. 

Newsom commented while giving a statement, “As the western U.S. faces a potential third year of drought, it’s critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible.”

The announcement on Tuesday expanded the drought emergencies from 50 of the counties in California to the remaining eight. The eight counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Imperial, San Francisco, and Ventura; were, up until this point, deemed not severe enough for the drought emergency.

The declarations intend to ease the responses to the worsening drought, such as purchasing emergency bottled water or construction to bolster water supplies. Under this new statement, local water suppliers must now start planning for the possibility of a dry year ahead.

The director of water resources at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, David Pettijohn, said, “Next year is the issue. And we don’t know what the water year is going to look like. Nobody can predict the weather.”

Water watchers in California warn that without a conservation mandate, California is losing time and water. The director of research at the Pacific Institute, Heather Cooley, believes it’s time for conservation mandates as voluntary cuts fail to meet the 15% cuts that Newsom urged in July, “It takes time to ramp up, and because of the delay in asking Californians to save water this spring, we are further behind than we should be.” said Cooley. Californians understand that the state has been going through a drought for a long time, and even without mandated cutting back Californians are becoming more conscious of their water usage. Californians used 5% less water in August 2021 compared to the previous year. The North Coast of California reduced water usage by 18.3%, well passed Newsom’s voluntary reduction threshold of 15%

Photo Cred: Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images