Updated Oct 20, 2021 - Energy & Environment

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters at Alvarado Care Home in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Sept. 29,

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.

Of note: Newsom's new proclamation enables the State Water Resources Control Board to ban wasteful water practices, including the use of potable water for washing sidewalks and driveways.

What he's saying: "As the Western U.S. faces a potential third year of drought, it's critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible," Newsom said in a statement.

The big picture: In April, Newsom declared an emergency executive order for two California counties due to drought. By May, he extended it to cover 41 counties. Now, all of the state's 58 counties are covered by the declaration.

  • In July, the governor asked state residents to voluntarily reduce household water usage by 15% as drought conditions worsened. State Water Resources Control Board data released Tuesday showed there was a 5% reduction in urban water use compared to 2020, per the governor's office.

By the numbers: Firefighters have battled more than 8,000 fires that have razed nearly 2.5 million acres of land, Cal Fire data shows.

Go deeper: California's nightmare summer

Editor's note: This article has been updated with further context on climate change's role in the extreme weather and fire conditions.

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