CM – Governor Newsom says mandatory state-wide water restrictions for California are on the way


Governor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that he could put mandatory water restrictions in six weeks as the state’s historic drought worsens.

The statement came when U.S. Environmental Protection Agency governor and administrator Michael Regan inspected the rebuilding work in Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains a year after a massive conflagration through the park’s old sequoia trees.

When asked if he would require cities to meet mandatory water conservation goals like the Former Governor Jerry Brown did nationwide during the last drought from 2012 to 2016, Newsom noted that he was already calling for 15% voluntary water conservation, but that could soon change. « Right now we’re doing voluntary, » the governor said . « But if we enter another year of drought – and as you know our water season starts on October 1st – we will likely have more to say by the end of September as we may enter the third year of this current drought. »

California is currently suffering from the worst drought in nearly 50 years. Mandatory water goals would likely mean sweeping restrictions on watering lawns, with fines for violations, along with water grants for homes and businesses, as was the case during the recent drought, as a tactic to keep supplies from running out.

According to the US Drought Monitor, a weekly report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NOAA, and the University of Nebraska, a total of 88% of the state is in extreme drought.

After the lowest rainfall in two years since 1975-77, the Reservoirs have fallen to shockingly low levels in many places across Northern California.

California’s largest state reservoir, Lake Oroville in Butte County, was only 23% full on Tuesday – the lowest since it was built in 1969. Last week The dam operators shut down the reservoir’s hydroelectric power station because there wasn’t enough water to turn its turbines.

Other large reservoirs around California are almost as low. The largest, Lake Shasta, was 29% full on Tuesday. The Folsom Reservoir north of Sacramento was 23% full. San Luis east of Gilroy was 16% full.

In some communities, including Mendocino and Fort Bragg, there is a risk of water running out completely.

« I was happy to see the drought paid more attention, but I’m sorry it wasn’t more than 15% and I’m sorry it wasn’t mandatory, ”said Peter Gleick, President Emeritus of the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit aquatic research center based in Oakland.

« The speed and intensity of this drought was clearly underestimated, » says Gleick, who has written eleven books on water policy and the climate. “There should have been calls for more conservation and efficiency months ago. There should have been calls for more aggressive and binding restrictions. This is a very severe drought and we don’t know when it will end. If we are lucky, it will end with the next rainy season. If not, we will regret not saving more water sooner. ”

Brown issued a statewide ordinance to communities to reduce water use by 25% during the state’s 2012-16 drought after volunteering Efforts had proven inadequate. Each city was given a different goal based on its per capita water use with fines for not meeting the goals and monthly updates on progress. The state achieved a 24.5% reduction.

Newsom noted that it has already declared a drought emergency in 50 of California’s 58 counties that may call them into question for state and federal assistance.

Newsom recently toured Oroville to see the low stats. When asked if he intended to shift the state from voluntary to mandatory conservation goals, he said: « We are monitoring conditions in real time, and as is so often the case with so many problems we face – not least of all. » COVID – we are open to facts. We are not ideological about the nature of the challenge and the willingness to lean in and then make recommendations and announcements. ”Currently, some communities where local supplies are particularly scarce have imposed water restrictions. The Santa Clara Valley Water District, based in San Jose, declared a drought emergency on June 9 and urged Santa Clara County’s 2 million residents to reduce their water use by 15% below 2019 levels. But June usage showed a 0% decrease, meaning Santa Clara County’s residents were using the same amount of water as they were two years ago.

Other major water authorities, including the East Bay Municipal Utility District and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, have no mandatory water restrictions.

Newsom faces a September 14 recall election. Some political observers say that after a year of urging Californians to make sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic, he is likely reluctant to ask for more victims before the election, polls show.

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« At another time, a governor could ask for mandatory restrictions, » said Larry Gerston, professor emeritus of political science at San Jose State University. « From a self-preservation standpoint, it makes sense that he would be very careful about causing more disruption to voters than it already is. » Newsom spent an hour in the still-closed Big Basin, California’s oldest state Park where crews cleared burned buildings and removed trees that were in danger of collapsing.

« We’ll get through this, » he said, looking at the charred sequoias that were already sprouting green branches and shoots. « And we’ll come out more capable and resilient on the other side. »


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