Governor Jerry Brown will reportedly declare a drought emergency Friday morning. The Sacramento Bee reports that will be the subject of what's being promoted as a "major annoucement" to be made at 10am in San Francisco. U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein is among the political leaders who've been pushing for the Governor to make the declaration.
Ahead of Governor Brown's announcement, new University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Thursday she wants to reduce water usage by 20% throughout the UC system by 2020.
Napolitano said as California experiences some of its driest weather on record, the university must step up and offer to help. She did not say how UC plans to reduce water but notes the university has been a leader in conservation efforts. The policy will be discussed at next week's Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco.
California isn't alone in its lack of precipitation, droughts are persisting or intensifying elsewhere in the West too and the Department of Agriculture is designating parts of 11 states as primary natural disaster areas, allowing eligible farmers to qualify for low-interest emergency loans. The areas included are in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Hawaii and California.
"We want water!"
That was the message from lawmakers and hundreds of farmers at the State Capitol today. They rallied on the west steps to call for an official drought declaration from Governor Brown and a new water bond for increased storage,
"So that we can capture the rain during wet years so we can use it during times like today," said Democratic Assemblyman Henry Perea of Fresno, who stood alongside Republican Senator Anthony Canella of Merced.
"If we can pass a bond for $11 billion to fund high speed rail we should be able to pass a bond for 10 or 11 billion to build water infrastructure," Senator Canella added.
A drought declaration would allow greater control over the allocation of water and likely trigger federal assistance.
Northern California is in a D-3 classification, indicating we're in an extreme drought and should expect it to last for another couple weeks.
The National Weather Service says by as soon as January 31st we should see better chances of rainfall even though it looks to be below normal. A very persistent ridge of high pressure has made this year the driest in California for the past 119 years recorded.
"This ridge has blocked storm systems from moving into Northern California by shifting the storm track well north of the state," explained meterologist Michelle Mead.
The blocking ridge has been with us since the Fall of last year.