Governor Brown issues Executive Order to redouble state drought actions + reactions

From the Office of the Governor:

governor seal“With California’s driest months ahead, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order to strengthen the state’s ability to manage water and habitat effectively in drought conditions and called on all Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water.

“The driest months are still to come in California and extreme drought conditions will get worse,” said Governor Brown. “This order cuts red tape to help get water to farmers more quickly, ensure communities have safe drinking water, protect vulnerable species and prepare for an extreme fire season. I call on every city, every community, every Californian to conserve water in every way possible.”

In January, the Governor declared a drought state of emergency. Since then, state water officials say that reservoirs, rainfall totals and the snowpack remain critically low. Current electronic readings show the snowpack’s statewide water content at just 16 percent of average.

In the order, Governor Brown directs the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board to expedite approvals of voluntary water transfers to assist farmers. He also directs the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to accelerate monitoring of drought impacts on winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River and its tributaries, and to execute habitat restoration projects that will help fish weather the on-going drought.

To respond to the increased threat of wildfire season, the order streamlines contracting rules for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and CALFIRE for equipment purchases and enables landowners to quickly clear brush and dead, dying or diseased trees that increase fire danger.

The order also calls on Californians and California businesses to take specific actions to avoid wasting water, including limiting lawn watering and car washing; recommends that schools, parks and golf courses limit the use of potable water for irrigation; and asks that hotels and restaurants give customers options to conserve water by only serving water upon request and other measures. The order also prevents homeowner associations from fining residents that limit their lawn watering and take other conservation measures.

The order provides a limited waiver of the California Environmental Quality Act for several actions that will limit harm from the drought. This waiver will enable these urgently needed actions to take place quickly and will remain in place through the end of 2014.

Last December, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to closely manage precious water supplies, to expand water conservation wherever possible and to quickly respond to emerging drought impacts throughout the state. In May 2013, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order to direct state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent – visit SaveOurH2O.org to find out how everyone can do their part, and visit Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought. … “

Read the Executive Order here:  Governor Brown Issues Executive Order to Redouble State Drought Actions

And now for reactions, in alphabetical order …

From the California Farm Water Coalition:

cfwc logo“Today’s proclamation by Governor Brown further underscores the critical situation California faces in this extended drought,” said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

*    As of March 4 more than 90 percent of California’s $44.7 billion farm economy was experiencing severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.

*    Normal water deliveries are estimated to be just 28 percent for 3.6 million acres, or 45 percent of California’s irrigated farmland, according to a CFWC survey of agricultural water suppliers.

*    At least 800,000 acres are expected to be idled due to water supply shortages.

*    Lost crop production is estimated at $3.56 billion with a total economic impact on the economy of $7.48 billion.

*    20,000 on-farm job losses are at risk, which will further affect and unknown number of associated processing, transportation, retail, wholesale and port jobs.

Severe water shortages puts at risk affordable access by consumers to fresh California fruits and vegetables, nuts, beef and dairy products.

*    California produces 60 percent of the nation’s fruit and tree nuts and 51 percent its vegetables.

*    The drought has the potential to decrease the availability of alfalfa, the primary feed for dairy cattle, which can increase feed prices and drive up milk prices for consumers.

*    USDA reports that nationwide, food costs are likely to exceed the normal rate of food price inflation specifically due to major impacts of the California drought.

“The Governor’s proclamation emphasizes the need for maximum flexibility in water transfers to some of the state’s most important food-growing regions as well as protections for threatened and endangered fish in the state’s rivers and streams. It strikes a balance between the ecosystem and the state’s capacity to produce food for grocery store shelves and for the jobs and economic activity generated by the nation’s No.1 farm state.”

Source: Received via email.  Traveling, and laptop does not have full version of Adobe.  Statement is not posted at this time at the CFWC website.  You’ll have to take my word for it 🙂  or email me and I will forward it to you.

From Congressman Jim Costa:

US_Rep._Jim_Costa_(D-CA)“In a drought year like this, it is critical that we use all the flexibility available to move scarce resources to the places in greatest need,” said Costa. “This decision will expedite the transfer of up to 150,000 acre feet to South-of-Delta communities and farms, ground zero of the drought. As communities struggle to maintain drinking water and farmers are questioning if they can hold on until next year, action could not come soon enough. Continued, coordinated efforts to bring relief to our Valley are crucial as we move through the rest of this challenging water year.”

Source: Received via email.  Traveling, and laptop does not have full version of Adobe.  Statement is not posted on Congressman Costa’s website.  You’ll have to take my word for it 🙂  or email me and I will forward it to you.

From Metropolitan Water District, Jeffrey Kightlinger, General Manager:

MWD logo“Metropolitan is counting on enhanced conservation this year so that the Southland can maintain adequate water supplies in reserve for next year. Every effort to conserve water can add up to real and meaningful savings that can be called upon if the drought stretches into 2015.

Metropolitan commends Gov. Brown’s efforts to make additional conservation actions an everyday part of California life. We also support his actions to streamline the regulatory process so that water can move to where it’s truly needed throughout the state this summer.”

Source: GM Statement Regarding Gov’s Drought Actions FINAL

From Steve Fleischli at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Click here to visit the NRDC's page on the California drought.

“The Governor’s actions are the right moves at the right time. They include critical provisions to stretch our water supplies, protect fish and wildlife, and they also provide agencies with the teeth they need to ensure that Californians don’t waste precious water during this historic drought.”

Source: NRDC: Governor Brown’s Executive Order Redoubles Drought Actions; Right Moves at the Right Time

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