Sonoma County Supervisors Proclaim Drought Emergency, Ask for Presidential Declaration

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With North Bay reservoirs at historically low levels after two years of drought, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors followed the state’s lead Tuesday, agreeing to a resolution proclaiming a local emergency due to severe drought conditions. The move comes less than a week after Governor Gavin Newsom issued a similar state declaration on Wednesday of last week.

The supervisors also asked the governor to seek federal disaster assistance, including a Presidential Declaration of Emergency. That move could free up federal dollars to help in drought mitigation efforts. The county declaration will make available more tools locally to help agricultural producers and cities weather the drought and request funding assistance.

In the meantime, supervisors asked all residents and agricultural interests to begin conserving water now, and not wait for mandatory restrictions to be issued.

It is widely expected that the state drought emergency declaration for Sonoma and Mendocino issued last week will be extended to other parts of California in the coming weeks. Most of California has received less than half of normal rainfall this winter, following another abnormally dry year in 2019-2020. (Image 1)

Meanwhile, Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino, at 62% and 43% of capacity respectively, are at their lowest levels ever entering the summer dry season. These storage reservoirs provide water to agricultural interests and some 600 thousand North Bay residents.

Statewide, storage is also low in California’s largest reservoirs at Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, with both at just over half of their historical average for the date. (Image 2)

And in the Sierra, which provides much of the state’s water supply, snowpack is hovering at just 1/3 to 1/2 of normal for the date. (Image 3)

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