CSAC Bulletin Article

Governor Expands Drought Emergency and Provides Details on Drought Funding Package

May 13, 2021

This week, the Governor significantly expanded his April 21 drought emergency proclamation to include Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and Tulare Lake Watershed counties, where accelerated action is needed to protect public health, safety, and the environment. In total, 41 counties and, representing 30 percent of the state population, are now under a drought state of emergency.  

The new drought emergency proclamation adds the following 39 counties: Del Norte, Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity, Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Modoc, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba counties. Additionally, the proclamation provides new authority for the existing drought emergency announced on April 21 for Mendocino and Sonoma counties.

The Governor’s proclamation directs the State Water Board to consider modifying requirements for reservoir releases and diversion limitations to conserve water upstream later in the year to maintain water supply, improve water quality and protect cold water pools for salmon and steelhead. The state of emergency also enables flexibilities in regulatory requirements and procurement processes to mitigate drought impacts and directs state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water from one water right holder to another, enabling available water to flow where it is needed most. 

Budget Package Announced

The Governor also detailed his May Revision proposal for drought. The proposal includes $5.1 billion in direct investments and is complemented by a $1 billion rate-relief package for overdue water bills, helping stabilize both water users and agencies. Critical to counties, the package includes:

  • $27 million for emergency and permanent solutions to drinking water drought emergencies.
  • $500 million for multi-benefit land repurposing to support growers.
  • $300 million for drought relief and urban water management grants for approximately 2,400 small community water systems that serve schools and all of California’s 58 counties as they plan for drought and potential water shortages.
  • $300 million for Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) implementation to improve water supply security, water quality, and water reliability.
  • $200 million for Water Conveyance to address subsidence and rising cost of moving water through the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta-Mendota Canal, the California Aqueduct, and the San Luis Canal.
  • $140 Million for Flood to reduce flood risk for 1.1 million people and over $100 billion of assets.
  • $60 Million for State Water Efficiency and Enhancement (SWEEP) in grants to help farmers reduce irrigation water use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture pumping.

Learn more about current conditions, the state’s response, and informational resources available to the public at the state’s new drought preparedness website. Please contact Catherine Freeman at cfreeman@counties.org or awaelder@counties.org if you have questions or concerns.

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