Written by Edward Smith
The Central Valley is officially in a drought emergency.
Gov. Gavin Newsom Monday signed a emergency declaration adding 39 counties to the previous two the state considered to be in drought conditions, according to a press release from the Governor’s Office.
The new declaration includes all seven Central Valley counties.
The declaration helps expedite requests for water transfers and water releases from reservoirs.
It also directs the State Water Board to consider changing requirements for releases as well as limitations on how much water can be diverted from sources.
The order will also help track and identify critically dry wells for communities.
The declaration cites extraordinarily warm temperatures in April and early May in combination with abnormally dry rainy season. Much of the snowpack that normally feeds into watersheds such as the San Joaquin River instead seeped into the earth.
Warmer conditions also increased earlier demand for stored water by more than 500,000 acre feet, the release stated.
Officials with the Kings River Water Association says this rain year is likely to be the driest one on record, according to a press release. Data from the California Department of Water Resources forecast runoff during the April-to-July snowmelt will be 27% of average at 330,000 acre-feet. The federal estimates put the forecast at 28%.
Snowpack feeding the Kings River is only 16% of the date’s average, according to the press release.