Senator Feinstein and Congressman Jim Costa have written a letter to Governor Brown, requesting that he address the dry conditions by declaring a state drought emergency. Two years of dry conditions have depleted reservoirs to levels not seen since 1977, critically diminishing the flexibility of the system to respond to hydrologic conditions and regulatory constraints, they say. They point out that Governor Schwarzenegger issued a drought declaration in the second year of dry conditions, and the state is facing those same challenges again.
” … Given these facts, we believe it would be prudent to declare a state drought emergency now and to request a broad federal disaster declaration from the President as soon as possible. This declaration will provide a number of additional state and federal authorities for addressing the ongoing drought conditions as described in the enclosed memo, including, but not limited to activating the State Emergency Plan and permitting relaxation and suspensions of some state statutes or regulations. Additional activities specifically authorized in the 2009 proclamation included promoting water conservation, implementing expedited water transfer procedures, and providing status reports on the state’s water conditions.
If issued, a Presidential declaration will provide authorities related to disaster assistance through federal agencies, opportunities for expedited water transfers, assistance with infrastructure improvements and additional flexibilities in regulatory decision-making. This declaration would send a strong signal that state and federal agencies must provide maximum discretion in their decisions that could have an impact on water supplies. … “