California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. on Jan. 17, 2014, proclaimed a state of emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for the drought conditions.

Water Emergency Declared for California

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on Jan. 17 proclaimed a state of emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare in the face of the driest year on record.

Responding to the driest year in recorded state history, California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. on Jan. 17 proclaimed a state of emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for the drought conditions facing the state. State water officials said California's river flows and reservoirs are below their record lows. In addition, the snowpack's statewide water content is at about 20 percent of normal average for this time of year.

"We can't make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California's drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas," Brown said."I've declared this emergency and I'm calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible."

In the declaration, Brown directed state officials to assist farmers and communities economically impacted by dry conditions and to ensure the state can respond if Californians face drinking water shortages. He directed state agencies to use less water, hire more firefighters, and he initiated a greatly expanded water conservation public awareness campaign, showcased at www.saveourh2o.org.

The declaration calls on local urban water suppliers and municipalities to implement their local water shortage contingency plans immediately and update their legally required urban and agricultural water management plans, which help to plan for extended drought conditions. The state's Department of Water Resources will make the status of these updates publicly available.

In response, the California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association called on its members in the drinking water community to take all necessary actions to protect public health and safety. "Governor Brown made the right decision," stated Bruce Macler, the section's board chair. "These record dry conditions represent a threat to public health, as well as the possibility of tremendous economic losses. We understand the vulnerability of the small communities dependent on wells, springs and streams that are going dry."

Section Executive Director Tim Worley offered suggestions for cities and water districts looking for information and resources during the drought. "I would hope that every water provider has dusted off the AWWA 'M-60' Manual of Practice on drought preparedness and response. If they have taken the manual to heart, they will be far better off during this emergency," he said. And he called on water conservation professionals trained and certified by the section to help their customers meet Brown's call for 20 percent water savings. "This is the moment for our certified Water Use Efficiency Practitioners – over 400 throughout the state – to step forward and lead the way," he said.

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