May 10, 2021 - Energy & Environment

California governor declares drought emergency in most counties

A sign calls for solving California's water crisis on the outskirts of Buttonwillow in California's Kern County on April 2, 2021

A sign in April on the outskirts of Buttonwillow in California's Kern County, one of the top agriculture producing counties in the San Joaquin Valley, after historically low winter rainfall. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover 41 of the state's 58 counties on Monday.

Why it matters: Most of California and the American West are experiencing an "extreme" or "exceptional" drought, per the U.S. Drought Monitor. Newsom and other officials are concerned California could experience a repeat of the catastrophic 2020 wildfire season.

  • Newsom noted at a briefing there are "acute water supply shortages" in northern and central California.

The big picture: Newsom proposed Monday a $5.1 billion package to cover an immediate drought response and long-term water resilience investments to address the crisis.

  • "The hots are getting a lot hotter in this state, the dries are getting a lot drier," he said. "We have a conveyance system, a water system, that was designed for a world that no longer exists."

For the record: Newsom's new order covers 30% of California's population, or almost 40 million people, across areas including the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds, the Tulare Lake basin region and the Klamath region.

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