California Drought Declared
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The worst apparent drought in California history led Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday to declare a drought state of emergency throughout the state.
"We're facing perhaps the worst drought that California has ever seen," Brown said at a press conference. "I'm calling for conservation by all citizens, by those in rural areas and our cities. Everyone should try to do at least 20 percent conservation of their water use. This takes a coming together of all the people of California to deal with this serious and prolonged event of nature."
California water officials meanwhile need flexibility to move water throughout the state, as farmers in the Central Valley are among the most severely affected by water shortages, the governor added.
"Hopefully it will rain eventually but in the meantime we have to do our part, make it easier to transfer water from one part of the state to the other so farmers, particularly those with permanent crops, can keep them alive," Brown said.
The announcement comes after a month of pressure from lawmakers. In a letter sent to Brown in December, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Jim Costa urged the governor to "address California's dire water supply conditions by declaring a state drought emergency."
"While it is early in the 2014 water year and therefore projections on allocations are conservative, what is clear is that we have had two years of dry conditions that have depleted our reservoirs and reduced carryover storage to historically low levels not seen since 1977," the letter said. "This is going to be a very challenging water year for California and a potentially catastrophic year for the Central Valley in particular."
Feinstein, Costa and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer have also called for President Barack Obama to appoint a federal drought task force and issue a federal disaster declaration should California ask for it.
Brown spent the past week meeting with farmers and water managers in Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside. Meanwhile, protesters, many of them bused from the Central Valley, held a water rally in Sacramento on Thursday, demanding that the governor declare a drought.