By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – To increase water conservation amid California’s drought emergency, Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced $22.5 million in spending to bolster the state’s response.
According to Gov. Newsom’s office, the additional allocation will increase funding for the Department of Water Resources, State Water Resources Control Board, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. About $8.25 million will be used to bolster outreach efforts to promote water conservation.
“These investments continue to provide crucial drought support to communities impacted around the state,” wrote Chief Deputy Finance Director Erika Li in a letter to Legislative budget and appropriations leaders.
The additional funding comes as California saw its driest January and February in state history, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The department reported a “significantly below average” snowpack as of March 1, with the snowpack at 63% of average.
“With only one month left in California’s wet season and no major storms in the forecast, Californians should plan for a third year of drought conditions,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a statement on March 1.
Gov. Newsom declared a drought emergency for 50 out of 58 counties in July, calling on businesses and individuals to voluntarily cut back on water usage by 15%. The state failed to meet the goals of the governor’s call, however, with water usage dropping by just 6% between July and November, according to the Associated Press.
In October, the drought emergency was extended statewide.
As a result, the State Water Resources Control Board voted in January to adopt water restrictions, which prohibit individuals from watering landscapes within 48 hours of storms that bring a quarter-inch or more of rain and watering in excess that leads to runoff on streets and sidewalks, according to LAist. Those who do not comply with the restrictions could face fines of up to $500.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the entire state is experiencing some form of drought, ranging from “moderate” to “extreme.” As of March 8, nearly 87% of the state was in a state of “severe drought,” and almost 13% was experiencing “extreme drought.”