Governor Gavin Newsom has taken limited action to address the drought conditions that California is currently experiencing. During a visit to Lake Mendocino, Governor Newsom has declared a drought emergency in two counties. Newsom said that the state will not be looking to address the drought conditions with a “one-size-fits-all solution.” Instead, state officials will be operating their drought response from a regional perspective.
“We will be declaring, in a targeted manner, a drought emergency here in Mendocino County and Sonoma County,” Newsom stated. “We have an emergency order that allows us to build in an iterative manner as conditions persist and present themselves to add other counties to that list as necessary. But we are taking a sequential approach. We are taking a targeted approach. And we are taking an approach based on actual conditions on the ground.”
Newsom explained the decision was based on the unprecedented water levels of the two reservoirs that are part of the Russian River watershed. Lake Mendocino currently sits at 43 percent capacity, while Lake Sonoma is at 62 percent. When asked why the emergency declaration was made for just two counties despite drought conditions throughout California, Newsom reiterated the point that they are taking a more focused approach in addressing the issue.
“I’m mindful that 50 percent capacity plus or minus is what we’re looking at in the aggregate in large reservoirs all up and down the state,” Newsom explained. “But in certain parts of the state conditions are more favorable at the moment than they are here. So, we took the actions here because of the imperative of this particular moment.”
Newsom made comparisons to the previous five-year drought declaration made by then-Governor Jerry Brown. “We’re year two into this drought. I want to put that into perspective,” Newsom noted. Many factors are weighed when considering a statewide drought emergency. State officials will be using the previous drought response as a guide to navigate the current drought conditions, with many having served under Governor Brown. While previous experience will be used as a reference, Newsom said that moving forward, “we need to disenthrall ourselves with the old ways of managing water supply and distribution.”