CSAC Bulletin Article

Governor Expands Notice of Drought Emergency

October 21, 2021

The Governor announced this week that additional counties would be added to the drought State of Emergency, which officially places all 58 California counties under drought emergency. The new counties include Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, and Ventura.

Despite the fact that individual counties have far-exceeded the statewide average, this follows a less than robust water conservation effort statewide. While rain is forecasted in many parts of the state this week, continued severe drought conditions, combined with low moisture in native vegetation and parched soils, necessitate multi-year action regardless of any single winter season totals.

The Executive Order triggers the authorization of the California Disaster Assistance Act for counties to use on temporary emergency supplies, drinking water, or water for sanitation purposes. This is similar to actions the Administration took during the 2014 drought emergency.

The order includes continued voluntary conservation action and coordinated use of all available water supplies, as well as permit streamlining and suspension for such actions. The order expedites water transfers at the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) including written notices and 30-day comment periods.

Local water suppliers are directed to execute their Urban Water Shortage Contingency Plans and agricultural drought plans, if they have not done so already, in anticipation of a third consecutive dry year.

The State Water Board is authorized to adopt emergency regulations to prohibit wasteful water practices including:

  • Washing sidewalks, buildings, structures, patios, parking lots, or other hard-surfaced areas, except in cases where health and safety are at risk;
  • The use of potable water that results in flooding or runoff in gutters or streets;
  • The use of potable water, except with the use of a positive shut-off nozzle, for the individual private washing of motor vehicles;
  • The use of water to irrigate turf and ornamental landscapes during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall of at least one-fourth of one inch of rain;
  • The use of potable water for irrigation of ornamental turf on public street medians;
  • The use of potable water for street cleaning or construction purposes, unless no other source of water or other method can be used or if necessary, to protect the health and safety of the public; and,
  • The use of potable water for decorative fountains or the filling or topping-off of decorative lakes or ponds, with exceptions for those decorative fountains, lakes, or ponds which utilize recycled water.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Catherine Freeman, Legislative Representative or Ada Waelder, Legislative Analyst.

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