CSAC Bulletin Article

Drought Emergency Expands, Call for Voluntary Conservation Statewide

July 8, 2021

Governor Newsom declared a drought emergency in nine additional counties today (Inyo, Marin, Mono, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz) and directed state agencies to take further actions to bolster drought resilience and prepare for impacts on communities, businesses, and ecosystems. This brings the total number of counties under state declarations to 50. The declaration accelerates actions that may be needed to protect public health, safety, and the environment, including those related to water rights and curtailment.

The Governor also issued an Executive Order encouraging voluntary conservation of water at 15 percent of 2020 usage. The State Water Board will track the state’s progress toward achieving this 15 percent goal and the Department of Water Resources will monitor hydrologic conditions. The Governor, in his discussion of the declaration, acknowledged that many communities have already invested significantly in water conservation measures, some exceeding the 15 percent goal. The declaration outlined common-sense measures that can be undertaken to save water including:

  • Irrigating landscapes more efficiently. As much as 50 percent of residential water use goes to outdoor irrigation, and much of that is wasted due to evaporation, wind, or runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems. Watering one day less per week, not watering during or immediately after rainfall, watering during the cooler parts of the day, and using a weather-based irrigation controller can reduce irrigation water use, saving nearly 8,800 gallons of water per year.
  • Running dishwashers and washing machines only when full. Full laundry loads can save 15–45 gallons per load. Full dishwasher cycles can save 5–15 gallons per load.
  • Finding and fixing leaks. A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste nearly 3,200 gallons per year.
  • Installing water-efficient showerheads and taking shorter showers. Keeping showers under five minutes can save 12.5 gallons per shower when using a water-efficient showerhead.
  • Using a shut-off nozzle on hoses.

Governor Newsom did not rule out further declarations as conditions warrant in other areas of the state. Households and communities facing drying wells and shortages are encouraged to report dry wells to the Department of Water Resources My Dry Water Supply, to help direct funding and resources. The State Water Resources Control Board is also using its SAFER water program to direct funding to small communities in need, to connect small water systems, and to provide immediate relief.

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