County of Sonoma Proclaims Drought Emergency

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today adopted a resolution proclaiming a local drought emergency and requesting the governor seek a Presidential Disaster Declaration. On April 21, Governor Gavin Newsom visited Lake Mendocino and proclaimed a state of emergency in Sonoma and Mendocino counties due to drought conditions in the Russian River Watershed. After two consecutive extraordinarily dry years, Lake Mendocino is currently 43 percent of target capacity and Lake Sonoma is 62 percent of capacity, both the lowest they have been on this date. Staff will return to the Board of Supervisors on May 11, 2021 to provide a situational update, including information on efforts to date and additional actions for consideration to address this emergency.

“The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors took action today to proclaim a local emergency due to severe drought conditions,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “In collaboration with Governor Newsom’s proclamation last week, the County proclamation will provide more tools to support the region’s local agriculture and economy, such as funding requests for drought related response activities. The drought in Sonoma County may result in broad impacts and considerations that extend beyond drinking water and conservation efforts. In some instances, such as local agriculture, the drought has created a critical emergency with significant crop loss and costs to local producers. Now is the time to save every drop of water. There is no water to waste.”

Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt and board liaison to Sonoma Water said, “Immediate water savings are needed from all members of our community, including urban, commercial, industrial and agriculture. We can only beat this drought if we act together. Today’s proclamation and earlier action by Governor Newsom will help provide tools to beat this drought.”

The County proclamation covers the entire Sonoma County Operational Area, including all nine cities and special districts. Under California’s Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), the County will serve as the lead agency for mutual aid and coordination with these jurisdictions and the state through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. With this proclamation, additional coordination within the Operational Area will occur to help identify what actions and resources are needed to address broad community impacts, particularly to local agriculture.

The proclamation creates a greater suite of opportunities to support the region’s local agriculture and economy. For example, additional funding requests for drought-related response activities and public outreach may become available that can assist the agricultural community, mitigate the increased fire risk, and streamline mitigation projects to protect and preserve drinking and agricultural water supplies.

Although not currently available through the governor’s proclamation, future reimbursement for emergency response and coordination activities may later become available through the California Disaster Assistance Act (CDAA). The CDAA would allow for reimbursement up to 75 percent of costs incurred under a locally proclaimed emergency. The resolution issued by the Board of Supervisors today requests the governor immediately authorize CDAA reimbursement and also requests the governor seek all available federal disaster assistance, including a Presidential Declaration of Emergency. The proclamation also requests that the governor waive regulations that may hinder response and recovery efforts.

For more information about current water supply conditions, please visit sonomawater.org.

For more information about how to save water, please visit savingwaterpartnership.org.

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