In 2012 and 2013 dry conditions were experienced statewide according to the Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Drought Monitor. Parts of the Central Valley and Southern California have experienced perpetually extreme drought conditions and the situation worsens with every day the state goes without rain.
Precipitation in some of areas of the state are at the lowest point since record keeping began in the 1800s. Statewide reservoir storage is down significantly and impacts of two, going on three, dry years in a row is felt everywhere.
On Jan. 17, 2014, with California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions. In the State of Emergency declaration, Governor Brown directed state officials to assist farmers and communities that are economically impacted by dry conditions and to ensure the state can respond if Californians face drinking water shortages. The Governor also directed state agencies to use less water and hire more firefighters and initiated a greatly expanded water conservation public awareness campaign (www.saveourh2o.org).
To read the full text of the Governor's State of Emergency, click here.
What is a drought?
According to the Department of Water Resources, there are actually two common types of drought. First, the most commonly referred to form of drought is meteorological drought: a period of below normal precipitation. The second most common form of drought that we discuss is hydrologic drought: a period of below average runoff from water sources. Scientists have not established a universal definition to identify when a drought begins or ends. The declaration of a drought is considered within the context of the needs for water resources.
Our state's massive system of water supply infrastructure (including reservoirs, managed groundwater basins, and inter-regional conveyance facilities) mitigates the effect of short-term dry periods.
Governor's Drought Task Force
Governor Brown has convened an interagency Drought Task Force to provide a coordinated assessment of the State’s dry conditions and provide recommendations on current and future state actions. The response to this statewide disaster requires the combined efforts of all state agencies and the state's model mutual aid system to address.
In support of this unified effort, all state agencies with a role in supporting drought mitigation and relief efforts are organized under the Incident Command System and will continue provide emergency planning, response, and mitigation support as long as needs exist. Similar task forces have been assembled in the droughts of the 2000's, 1990's, 1980's and 1970's.