California Central Valley Region in Emergency Status
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently proclaimed a state of emergency in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Kern counties due to severe water shortages.
"Central Valley agriculture is a $20-billion a year industry. If we don't get them water immediately, the results will be devastating," Schwarzenegger said. "Food prices, which are already stretching many family budgets, will continue to climb and workers will lose their jobs --everyone's livelihood will be impacted in some way."
The emergency proclamation is based, in part, on an assessment of the full impact that additional, unexpected cuts recently made by federal water officials to San Joaquin Valley farmers have had in the middle of the growing season. The proclamation directs the Department of Water Resources to work with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to deliver more water now through the State Water Project when it's needed most. It also orders his Department of Water Resources to transfer groundwater through the California Aqueduct to benefit farmers in the affected counties and the State Water Resources Control Board to review water transfers as quickly as possible.
"We would not be talking about any of this if, over the last 40 years, California had invested in our water infrastructure. Today we are taking aggressive action to address an immediate crisis, but a comprehensive solution is the only answer to addressing our drought situation in the long term," Schwarzenegger said.
In his 2008-09 budget, the governor proposed an $11.9-billion bond for water management investments that will address population growth, climate change, water supply reliability, and environmental needs. Specifically, the bond includes:
• Water Storage: $3.5 billion dedicated to the development of additional storage.
• Delta Sustainability: $2.4 billion to help implement a sustainable resource management plan for the Delta.
• Water Resources Stewardship: $1.1 billion to implement river restoration projects.
• Water Conservation: $3.1 billion to increase water use efficiency.
• Water Quality Improvement: $1.1 billion for efforts to reduce the contamination of groundwater.
• Other Critical Water Projects: $700 million for water recycling, hillside restoration for areas devastated by fire, and removal of fish barriers on key rivers and streams.