by Katy Grimes, E&E Legal Senior Media Fellow and California Globe Editor
As Appearing in the California Globe
Water shortages, lack of groundwater recharge, contaminated drinking water, and subsidence are all man-made in California
Last week, when California Gov. Gavin Newsom was in Oroville, with a 60% empty Oroville Dam Reservoir as his backdrop, he said he is not ready to declare an official drought emergency. “Instead, he promised he can manage the situation without resorting to an emergency declaration, which could help his administration clamp down on water use,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. They also reported that the threat of a recall election could be at the root of his decision.
Maybe someone can ask the governor why in the last two weeks, 91% of Delta inflow went to the sea. State pumps are at -97%, federal pumps at -85%. Outflows show 6,060,828,600 gallons. While he still has his emergency powers, can’t the governor order stoppage of this outflow if California really is on the precipice of severe water shortages and a “rare mega drought?”
People forget the winter of 2019 brought 200 percent of average rains and snow pack. Yet the state still held back on water to farmers, and residents are facing rationing, the Globe reported May 2019.
The state uses about 47.5 percent of its developed water supply for the environment, including wild river flows, managed wetlands and wildlife preserves, habitat and water quality control for fish, and required Delta outflows, according to the Department of Water Resource. Water is diverted in times of drought and times of plenty to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, leaving much less for irrigation or for Californians to drink, residents will be limited to 55 gallons per day.