Gavin Newsom Extends ‘Drought Emergency’ to Most California Counties

California drought Folsom Lake (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

Gov. Gavin Newsom extended his “drought emergency” declaration on Monday, placing 41 of the state’s 58 counties within that category as reservoirs remain extremely low heading into the dry summer months.

As Breitbart News reported earlier this week, most of the state has suddenly found itself in “extreme” drought, according to the federal government’s Drought Monitor.

Newsom made his announcement in the Central Valley on Monday, as the San Jose Mercury News reported:

Speaking at a news conference on the banks of San Luis Reservoir, a massive lake located between Gilroy and Los Banos, Newsom stopped short of announcing mandatory water conservation targets or restrictions for cities, as Brown did in 2015. But his emergency proclamation further highlighted the growing water crisis in the state and set in motion a variety of rules and policies aimed at reducing potential water shortages.

Of particular concern is California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack, the source of nearly one-third of the state’s water. The snowpack was 59% of its historical average on April 1. But hot temperatures since have caused it to melt quickly. Rather than running into rivers and reservoirs, a significant portion of that water simply soaked into the parched ground, something Newsom said the state should anticipate more of as temperatures continue to warm due to climate change.

Also, the [state] water board was required to consider curtailing water rights’ holders diversions from streams and rivers. And the board and the state biologists were required to evaluate the amount of water required to be left in streams and rivers that are home to salmon, steelhead and other fish. If they can’t work out voluntary agreements with water rights holders and other players, they must consider emergency regulations, which could result in less water being released from dams, and potential die-offs of fish.

Farmers had pressed Newsom for an emergency declaration, which would make various forms of relief available.

Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), who represents part of the Central Valley, had pressed for a broad emergency declaration, and applauded Newsom’s decision in a statement:

Last month, Governor Newsom declared a drought state of emergency for only two counties – Mendocino and Sonoma – an outrageous decision to make while counties in the rest of the state are also experiencing severe drought conditions. For weeks, my colleagues and I repeatedly urged Governor Newsom to expand the drought emergency declaration in California to provide relief to the dozens of other struggling counties. I am encouraged that Governor Newsom finally listened to our serious concerns and granted our request.

In his own statement, Newsom proposed an additional $5.1 billion in spending, both on drought relief and long-term water infrastructure, though such promises in the past have not led to construction of new reservoirs for water storage.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new e-book, We Told You So!: The First 100 Days of Joe Biden’s Radical Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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