Gov. Brown declares drought emergency


By Julia Cheever | Bay City News Service

Gov. Jerry Brown today proclaimed a drought state of emergency in what is expected to be the driest year on record in California.

Brown ordered state agencies to take actions to prepare for emergency conditions and called on Californians to reduce water consumption voluntarily by 20 percent.

"We have to recognize this is not a partisan adversary," Brown said at a news conference in his office at the State Building in San Francisco. "This is Mother Nature. We have to live within the resources we have."

Brown's proclamation says state water supplies have dipped to "alarming levels," with mountain snowpacks at 20 percent of normal for this time of year, reduced surface flow in rivers and significant drops in reservoir and groundwater levels.

The proclamation includes a series of executive orders requiring state agencies to aid affected farmers and communities by expediting water transfers and releasing stored water from reservoirs.

State agencies were also ordered to develop water conservation plans. The Department of Forestry will hire additional seasonal firefighters, Brown said.

Brown said he hopes the environmental analysis of his Delta Plan, which proposes two 35-mile tunnels to divert water to Central and Southern California, will speed up. Some conservationists and local officials have opposed the plan.

Brown said allocating water in California entails conflicts between northern and southern and urban and rural parts of the state, but said, "We all depend on one another."

California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said he welcomed the proclamation. Wenger urged Brown to lead a campaign for increased water storage facilities to provide more flexibility in the face of volatile weather patterns.

"Conservation alone won't solve our chronic water supply problems. California must commit to improve its water system," Wenger said in a statement.

Outside the State Building, a group of about 25 members of several environmental groups chanted and carried signs urging Brown to end fracking in California. Fracking, the hydraulic fracturing of underground rock to release oil, uses millions of gallons of water.

David Turnbull, campaigns director for Oil Change International, said, "To allow water-intensive fracking for oil to continue in a drought is to deny the reality of what California's farmers and communities are facing every day."


Like this comment
Posted by Annabelle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 17, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Come to Sharon Heights and see how the residents' watering runs down the streets . . .

Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 17, 2014 at 12:33 pm

When there is a drought, all we have to do is raise the price of water.

Ideally, everyone would pay the same price for water (farmers, city-dwellers, evil suburban lawn-waterers, and so forth). The price would go up when there was a drought, or if we need water to save the fishes, until a proper balance was reached between usage and capacity.

I know that is too sensible and simple for the fuzzy-thinkers and insufferable ninnys and nannys of California, so prepare for endless wailing and regulations about proper uses of water, filled glasses in restaurants, lawn watering hours, etc.

Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Evil?? Every resident pays for every drop. Any idea how much Silicone valley uses and pollutes ground wells? Start with them. Been throught a 'drought' before. But insulting others is not very polite.

Like this comment
Posted by Let it flow
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 17, 2014 at 1:51 pm

I see 2 problems with your raising prices:
1. Prices will never come down when water is plentiful.
2. Who will tell the sheep when to water their lawns, shower and flush? Without the government telling them how to live they will be hopelessly lost.

Silicon valley uses what they need and pays for it. How is it possible they pollute the ground water if our ever present government agencies are doing their job to protect us from ourselves? What are the EPA and countless county and state protectionist agencies doing to monitor our water? Probably nothing. More waste of tax dollars.

Like this comment
Posted by tom h
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 17, 2014 at 3:33 pm

This is the same Governor that is still looking at the possibility of allowing more fracking in CA. He is still willing to use our precious limited water to destroy what little water we have and to pollute our state. This is a clear sign as to who is running our state and national government BIG OIL and GAS. Like my 12 year old niece said. "He is so stupid that means anyone can be Governor" I said go for it!

Like this comment
Posted by Ike's congressional/corporate/industrial bribe complex
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 17, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Great example of a highly inaccurate debate frame - "How is it possible they pollute the ground water if our ever present government agencies are doing their job to protect us from ourselves? "

Interesting frame shift in light of the lack of inspections of the chemical tanks that polluted the river in West Virginia, and left more than 300,000 people without access to any water. Inspectors of all kinds are defunded constantly by the far right, and those W VA tanks were last inspected in 1991 (the far right politicians are then funded by those industries -- given that today is the 53rd anniversary of Eisenhower's famous farewell, we should be well aware of of the civilian version of Ike's military/industrial/congressional complex.)

Hardly is our government "ever present" in areas of critical importance, such as air, water and food. We should increase funding to the agencies that protect our food, air and water.

Most folks agree, unless you are one of those free market libertarians who think the free market will protect you. You know the type:

"the free market will decide who stays in business -- if the product is overpriced, or the service is inadequate, just go to another provider"

Yeah - if your water is polluted by an rarely inspected, sub-standard chemical plant, just get you water from another provider!!

Do not accept the corrupt frame offered by the far right, in this case a post from @letitflow

Inspections are WAY DOWN over the last couple decades, in almost every industry. Just ask the third of a million Virginians who can't even shower in the polluted Elk River watershed.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Let it flow
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 17, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Ike's congressional/corporate/industrial bribe complex

Oh yes that "far right" group that is promoting dirty air, polluted waters and starving babies. If only we could rid ourselves of that corrupt evil group we could be ruled by the even handed left that will decide what care you can have, when you may speak and how much money you may keep. Centralized thinking is so much easier than individual thought.

Like this comment
Posted by Ike's congressional/corporate/industrial bribe complex
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Last I looked, Ike was a Republican.

As was the guy who signed in the EPA into existence, Richard Nixon.

But yes, today's GOP is "that "far right" group that is promoting dirty air, polluted waters..." by underfunding inspection agencies.

Look at West Virginia - last inspected in the 90's, the river polluted by the coal industry is the water source for 300,000 people.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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