California Drought Spurs Schwarzenegger to Declare State of Emergency
In light of California’s third consecutive year of drought, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency, falling short of instituting mandatory water rationing – at least for now.
“Even with the recent rainfall, California faces its third consecutive year of drought and we must prepare for the worst – a fourth, fifth or even sixth year of drought,” said Governor Schwarzenegger in a statement.
Calling the situation a crisis as serious as an earthquake or wildfire, Schwarzenegger said: “Last year we experienced the driest spring and summer on record and storage in the state’s reservoir system is near historic lows. This drought is having a devastating impact on our people, our communities, our economy and our environment – making today’s action absolutely necessary.”
Governor Schwarzenegger called on state departments to:
- Request that all urban water users immediately increase their water conservation activities in an effort to reduce their individual water use by 20%;
- Expedite water transfers and related efforts by water users and suppliers;
- Offer technical assistance to agricultural water suppliers and agricultural water users, including information on managing water supplies and efficiency;
- Implement short-term efforts to protect water quality or water supply;
- Assist labor market with job training and financial services;
- Launch a statewide water conservation campaign to immediately decrease residential water use; and
- Implement a water use reduction plan and take immediate water conservation actions and requests that federal and local agencies to do the same.
If the emergency conditions have not been sufficiently mitigated by March 30, the Governor will consider additional steps including the institution of mandatory water rationing and mandatory reductions in water use.
Beyond conservation and efficiency, the proclamation by Governor Schwarzenegger might get more people looking at desalination technologies to provide new sources of water. In particular, one called engineered osmosis reportedly produces potable water from saltwater with one tenth as much energy as is currently required in reverse osmosis desalination.
Image: CC licensed by flickr user laszlo photo