Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno) sent a follow-up request to Governor Gavin Newsom asking for a statewide declaration of emergency on California’s drought. The new request comes after a bipartisan group of Valley lawmakers called on the Governor for a declaration of emergency. In a press conference on April 8, Governor Newsom indicated his administration was not prepared to declare an emergency at this time.
Senator Borgeas’ request notes that United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a member of the Biden Administration, sent a letter to Governor Newsom on March 5, 2021 alerting him that 50 California counties were designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as primary natural disaster areas due to drought.
“California farmers need to make decisions now,” said Senator Borgeas. “We can’t wait until the zenith of the drought to take action. Declaring an emergency will allow state agencies to cut through red tape and deliver more water to Valley farms. We can’t afford to wait any longer.”
Water experts, along with leaders at all levels of government, agree that a drought declaration is necessary:
- Congressman Jim Costa also urged Governor Newsom to declare a water emergency in an interview on April 11.
- US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary Tom Vilsack released a joint statement on April 8 acknowledging drought conditions in the Western United States continue to worsen.
- The state of Utah has already acknowledged and declared a drought emergency.
In a news release announcing reduced water allocations California Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth said, “We are now facing the reality that it will be a second dry year for California and that is having a significant impact on our water supply.”