Equilibrium/Sustainability

Newsom expands California drought emergency statewide

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) issued a proclamation on Tuesday evening expanding the state's drought emergency to include the entire state, following the second driest year ever recorded.

The governor's proclamation now includes eight countries that had previously been exempt from the state of emergency: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, San Francisco and Ventura. With the possibility of a third consecutive year of drought on the horizon, the extended proclamation now requires local water supplies to enact water shortage contingency plans that reflect local conditions, according to the governor's office.

"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," Newsom said in a statement.

The proclamation empowers the State Water Resources Control Board to prohibit wasteful water practices, such as the use of drinking water to clean sidewalks and driveways, a news release from his office explained. Meanwhile, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services will now be able to provide funding to support emergency response teams and deliver water for public health and safety under the California Disaster Assistance Act, according to the news release.

Newsom urged residents to bolster their water conservation efforts, following up on a July executive order in which he called upon Californians to reduce water use by 15 percent compared to 2020. By August, the state had only reduced urban water use by 5 percent compared to the previous year, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

Tuesday's proclamation comes following California's second driest "water year" in history, rivaled only by 1924. The U.S. Geological Survey defines the "water year" as the 12-month period from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

August 2021 also marked the driest and hottest August on record since reporting began, the governor's office said.

"With historic investments and urgent action, the state is moving to protect our communities, businesses and ecosystems from the immediate impacts of the drought emergency while building long-term water resilience to help the state meet the challenge of climate change impacts making droughts more common and more severe," Newsom said.

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