California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, measured through a combination of high temperatures and low precipitation, prompting California Gov. Newsom to call for mandatory conservation efforts. The state recorded its second driest year, with its largest reservoirs reaching near-record levels of low storage.
The governor signed a proclamation that extends the drought emergency statewide, pushing Californians to voluntarily double down on water-conservation efforts as the state faces a possible third dry year.
“As the western U.S. faces a potential third year of drought, it’s critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible,” said Governor Newsom. “With historic investments and urgent action, the state is moving to protect our communities, businesses and ecosystems from the immediate impacts of the drought emergency while building long-term water resilience to help the state meet the challenge of climate change impacts making droughts more common and more severe.”
The proclamation is meant to complement an executive order from July 2021 that calls on Californians to voluntarily reduce water usage by 15 percent compared to 2020 levels. It also reinforces conservation efforts by enabling the State Water Resources Control Board to water practices considered inefficient.
State officials estimate that urban water users can save approximately 850,000 acre-feet of water over the next year, which is enough to supply more than 1.7 million households water for a year. Californians can help through small yet impactful actions including using washing machines or dishwashers only when full, fixing leaks, using water-efficient showerheads, and taking shorter showers.
According to a recent press release, the proclamation “allows the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to provide funding and aid under the California Disaster Assistance Act to support the emergency response and delivery of drinking water and water for public health and safety.”
Newsom’s California Comeback Plan invests $5.2 billion over the next three years in an effort to support immediate drought response and long-term water resilience, which includes $815 million for drought-relief projects and expanding water supplies, and supporting drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Notably, there is a focus on small and disadvantaged communities.
Public information about the state’s response to the drought, as well as resources, can be found at https://drought.ca.gov.