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Home > Natural Resources > Water Strategies to Preserve Natural Resource Supplies and Quality

Statewide California Drought Declared June 4, 2008 by Governor

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a statewide drought after two years of below-average rainfall, low snowmelt runoff and a court-ordered restriction on water transfers.

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JUNE 4, 2008

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought and order the state Department of Water Resources to quickly transfer water to areas with the most severe water shortages.

"There is no more time to waste because nothing is more vital to protect our economy, our environment and our quality-of-life," Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a statewide drought after two years of below-average rainfall, low snowmelt runoff and a court-ordered restriction on water transfers.

Schwarzenegger warned that residents and water managers must immediately cut their water use or face the possibility of rationing next year if there is another dry winter.

The executive order also calls on the state water department to coordinate with other state and federal agencies to assist water suppliers, identify risks to water supply and help farmers facing losses as a result of water shortages.

In addition, Schwarzenegger urges local water districts and agencies to promote water conservation. Conditions could be even worse next year if there is another dry winter, Water Resources Director Lester Snow said.

The declaration comes after two years of below-average rainfall in California, low snowmelt runoff from the Sierra and the largest court-ordered water transfer restrictions in state history, according to the administration.

California's population has mushroomed since the last drought, while the water supply has dwindled. And an eight-year drought in the Southwest means California can't depend on Colorado River water to help supply Southern California. And a federal judge's order last year requires that more Northern California water be left in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to aid declining fish populations.

The statewide drought declaration is the first since 1991, when Gov. Pete Wilson acted in the fifth year of a drought that lasted into 1992.

"We're suffering the perfect storm, if you will," said Timothy Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. "The purpose of the governor's declaration is to send a wake-up call."

California has never resorted to statewide rationing during droughts, Quinn said.

Worst-hit so far is the San Joaquin Valley, which could soon merit an emergency declaration because of crop damage, Snow said.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it would cut water supplied to Central Valley farms to 40 percent of the amount growers contract for with the federal government. Water deliveries from state reservoirs could drop to 35 percent, Snow said.

That could mean hundreds of acres of crops won't be planted this year, according to the giant Westlands Water District, which supplies growers who produce about $1 billion worth of crops annually.

Schwarzenegger used the drought declaration to push a nearly $12 billion bond to fund delta, river and groundwater improvements, conservation and recycling efforts, and reservoirs. Legislators have not agreed to his plan.

SOURCE: CNN



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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