Drought Emergency Declared in 41 California Counties

California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an expanded “drought emergency proclamation” for 41 of the state’s 58 counties. Newsom cited above-average temperatures and dry conditions in April and May, directing the state water board to consider modifying the requirements for reservoir releases and other conservation measures. In addition, the declaration gives California officials flexibility in regulatory requirements to mitigate drought impacts, which Newsom attributed in part to climate change.

“We’re working with local officials and other partners to protect public health and safety and the environment and call on all residents to help meet the challenge by stepping up efforts to save water,” Newsom said.

The move was criticized by a wildlife protection group called Save California Salmon, which accuses Newsom of favoring big agricultural interests. A statement from the groups said, “California’s antiquated water rights system leaves cities and the environment high and dry while almonds get clean water. Poor water management during the last drought led to 90% of salmon dying, and toxic algae bloom in cities’ water supplies.”

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