California Drought Declared
Posted by Gina Harkins on Jun 8, 2008 - 3:04:59 PM
Photo courtesy of cdva.ca.gov
STATEWIDE—Following two years of below average rainfall and snow melt runoff, Governor Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought Wednesday. The drought declaration marks the first since 1991, instated during the fifth year of a six year drought in California. State officials called Californians to conserve water last month, after a dry winter left the state with 55 percent of the normal snow runoff it depends on from the Sierra Nevada. The unusually dry conditions have left California in extreme fire danger and harmed water quality. The drought could also result in hundreds of acres of crops not being planted this year, due to a requirement to cut back Central Valley farms’ allotted water to 40 percent its contracted amount.
During his mandated order, Governor Schwarzenegger emphasized the need to upgrade California’s water infrastructure. The governor continues pushing for a nearly $12 billion proposal to build more reservoirs and a canal to direct water to a struggling Sacrament-San Joaquin Delta, using the declaration to further his efforts. The declaration also orders state officials to help local water districts with conservation efforts, offers help for farmers suffering losses and directs the State Department of Water Resources to speed water transfers to areas with more severe shortages. Many water districts already require water conservation or rationing, including the East Bay Municipal Utility District which declared a severe water shortage. The district’s website, ebmud.com, states a target of 15 percent overall reduction of water use, along with individual goals for different types of customers and certain prohibitions.
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