Governor Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency in Los Angeles County late this afternoon, as well as in Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Ventura, Imperial and San Francisco Counties. That puts the entirety of Southern California under the state’s water conservation order.
Those eight counties had been excluded from the original emergency declaration, but with water conservation efforts falling short statewide, Newsom said, “it’s critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible.”
Newsom’s order today puts all of the state’s 58 counties under the order, which says: “All agencies of the state government are to utilize and employ state personnel, equipment, and facilities for the performance of any and all activities consistent with the direction of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the State Emergency Plan.”
It goes on to say that “all residents are to obey the direction of emergency officials with regard to this emergency in order to protect their safety.”
The action allows officials across the entire state to begin coordinating and planning for what looks to be, with La Niña, another stretch of drought going into 2022. That could have ramifications for businesses and residents alike.
While the governor had asked — and continues to ask — for a 15% voluntary cut in water consumption from consumers, today’s action hints at stronger measures. It allows the State Water Board to “adopt emergency regulations, as it deems necessary, to supplement voluntary conservation by prohibiting certain wasteful water practices.”
It identifies the following list of wasteful water practices that may be targeted:
a.) The use of potable water for washing sidewalks, driveways, buildings, structures, patios, parking lots, or other hardsurfaced areas, except in cases where health and safety are at risk
b.) The use of potable water that results in flooding or runoff in gutters or streets
c.) The use of potable water, except with the use of a positive shut-off nozzle, for the individual private washing of motor vehicles
d.) 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
e.) The use of potable water for irrigation of ornamental turf on public street medians
f.) 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
g.) 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
Newsom has issued a series of such proclamations, the last on July 8, impacting other parts of the state. But he waited until today to put the final eight counties, which constitute more than half of California’s population, under an emergency order.
California’s drought is undeniable. A statement from the Governor’s Office said, “California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures. August 2021 was the driest and hottest August on record since reporting began and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record.”