Newsom expands drought emergency proclamation to include all SoCal counties

Local news

With California’s water situation rapidly deteriorating following another dry winter, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday afternoon announced an expanded drought Proclamation of Emergency that affects all of the Southland.

The proclamation extends the current statewide emergency to all Southern California counties — including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura — and San Francisco County. As a result, all 58 of the state’s counties are now covered.

Additionally, the emergency order gives the State Water Resources Control Board authority to ban some wasteful practices, such as hosing sidewalks, irrigating public street medians and watering ornamental turf after a rain storm. The process to determine what’s permitted and what is not will be made by the water board.

Local water suppliers will also be directed to implement their urban water shortage contingency and agriculture drought plans. Those plans would account for a potential third straight dry year, which is entirely possible in Southern California given that La Niña conditions are forecast “to emerge shortly and continue through winter 2021-22,” according to NOAA.

The governor’s emergency proclamation would also pave the way for emergency funds to go toward water supply and delivery.

The declaration comes as California’s drought conditions worse, with approximately 87% of the state mired in extreme drought and nearly half experiencing the most severe category of exceptional drought, the latest federal drought monitor data shows.

At the same time, California’s reservoirs are heavily depleted, with many dropping to historic lows.

With California experiencing the second driest year on record, Newsom also urged residents to voluntarily conserve water and reduce usage.

“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 news release. “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.”

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