Governor declares drought in Tulare County

Governor Gavin Newsom announces an expansion to his drought declaration to include a total of 41 out of 58 California counties, including Tulare County

SACRAMENTO – California’s two dry winters have now culminated in a drought declaration from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.

After initially declaring a drought for only two counties in the state, Newsom significantly expanded his emergency drought proclamation which will include Tulare County. The proclamation will also include Klamath River and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta counties where accelerated action is needed to protect public health, safety and the environment.

In total, 41 counties are now under a drought state of emergency, representing 30 percent of the state’s population.

Early warm temperatures and extremely dry soils have further depleted the expected runoff water from the Sierra-Cascade snowpack, resulting in historic and unanticipated reductions in the amount of water flowing to major reservoirs.

“We’re working with local officials and other partners to protect public health and safety and the environment, and call on all Californians to help meet this challenge by stepping up their efforts to save water,” Gov. Newsom said.

In April, Governor Newsom signed an emergency proclamation directing state agencies to take immediate action to bolster drought resilience across the state and declaring a state of emergency in Mendocino and Sonoma counties due to severe drought conditions in the Russian River Watershed. Shortly thereafter the Tulare County Board of Supervisors issued a drought declaration of their own.

The resolution proclaims “that a local emergency now exists throughout said Tulare County due to drought which has created conditions of disaster and extreme peril to the safety of persons and property within the county, and that such conditions are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment, and/or facilities of this county, thus requiring the combined forces of other political subdivisions to combat.”

Board chairwoman Amy Shuklian joined the board of supervisor chairs last month in Fresno, Kings, Kern, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties in signing a letter requesting Gov. Newsom to declare a statewide emergency due to drought and begin taking immediate steps to address the issue. Those steps include providing agencies more flexibility to work together to adapt to this challenging situation, to minimize red tape for water transfers, and allow state agencies to modify certain reservoir release standards to allow for more water to go to farms and communities throughout the state.

Other state officials are already reverting back to water saving rhetoric that was often used during the 2012-2016 drought.

“It’s time for Californians to pull together once again to save water,” California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said. “All of us need to find every opportunity to save water where we can: limit outdoor watering, take shorter showers, turn off the water while brushing your teeth or washing dishes. Homeowners, municipalities, and water diverters can help by addressing leaks and other types of water loss, which can account for over 30 percent of water use in some areas.”

The governor signed the emergency proclamation while introducing his $5.1 billion package of immediate drought response and long-term water resilience investments to address immediate, emergency needs, build regional capacity to endure drought and safeguard water supplies for communities, the economy and the environment.

The $5.1 billion proposed investment is intended to take place over four years, and a part of Newsom’s “Water Resilience Portfolio,” that he states is a roadmap to water security in the face of climate change. According to a press release the portfolio is shaped by lessons learned during the 2012-16 drought, such as the need to act early and gather better data about water systems. The package includes:

  • $1.3 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, with a focus on small and disadvantaged communities.
  • $200 million for water conveyance improvements to repair major water delivery systems damaged by subsidence.
  • $500 million for multi-benefit land repurposing to provide long-term, flexible support for water users.
  • $91 million for critical data collection to repair and augment the state’s water data infrastructure to improve forecasting, monitoring, and assessment of hydrologic conditions.
  • $27 million for emergency and permanent solutions to drinking water drought emergencies.

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