California governor declares state of emergency over drought
By Derrick Cain
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 17, 2014 - Gov. Jerry Brown (D) declared a state of emergency today in California directing state officials to take necessary actions to combat serious drought conditions as farmers there are dealing with record low levels of rainfall.
“We can't make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California's drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” Brown said.
The declaration said the state's water supplies have dropped to alarming levels with snowpack in California's mountains at about 20 percent of the normal average, low water reservoir levels, and reduced surface water flows. Meanwhile, several wildfires have raged across various parts of the state.
Officials were ordered to commence a statewide water conservation campaign to encourage personal actions to reduce water usage and to implement water shortage contingency plans.
Tom Nassif, president and chief executive officer of the Western Growers, said the situation in California is dire and is wreaking havoc on farmers in California.
“We look to the governor and the Obama administration to take emergency actions to ensure speedy approval of any water transfers that are still possible,” Nassif said.
Nassif said his organization is looking to the administration to allow state and federal water projects that convey water from the north to the south, to “operate at the highest end of their discretion within the existing rules limiting water exports to protect fish species, when pulse flows reach the Delta.”
The declaration comes a day after USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service's (NRCS) National Water and Climate Center predicted a limited water supply west of the Continental Divide, based on the snowpack in 13 western states.
NRCS released its first water supply forecast of 2014, and said, “Right now, the West Coast is all red.” A seasonal forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center is calling for a milder and somewhat drier than normal winter for much of the West.
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