By Miriam Raftery
Image, left: Dept. of Water Resources map shows precipitation is far below average statewide
May 11, 2021 (Sacramento) – Following months of below normal rainfall in one of the driest years on record, Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday expanded his April 21 drought emergency proclamation to include a total of 41 counties. San Diego is not included in the proclamation, which covers primarily Northern and Central California, areas representing about 30 percent of the state’s population. However all state residents are asked to help conserve water, a criitical resource.
Extraordinarily warm temperatures in April and early May separate this critically dry year from all others on California record. Climate change-induced early warm temperatures and extremely dry soils have further depleted runoff water from the Sierra-Cascade snowpack, resulting in historic and unanticipated reductions in water flowing to major reservoirs. The drastic reduction in water supplies means these reservoirs are extremely low for water users including farmers, also threatening fish and wildlife in the counties the drought proclamation covers.
Newsom announced $5.1 billion in funding for a menu of measures to address the drought and related water challenges. His proposal takes timely advantage of a massive $75.7 billion budget surplus, a surplus due largely to wealthy Californians who profited during the pandemic.