Lawmakers Urge Brown, Obama To Declare Drought Emergency in Calif.



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(San Francisco, CA)
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

(AP) -- With another dry winter looming, California lawmakers are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown and President Barack Obama to declare a drought emergency and federal disaster in the state.

In a letter sent Monday, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Democratic Rep. Jim Costa urged the governor to take immediate action.

The lawmakers cited the California Department of Water Resources' announcement of low water deliveries for Central Valley agriculture due to low rainfall projections.

While a drought has not been declared, a dry 2014 would be the third straight year with subpar rainfall.

Most of the state's water comes from the Sierra snowpack, so in dry years water managers dramatically cut deliveries due to environmental concerns.

The letter states in part:

As you are aware, on November 20, 2013, the California Department of Water Resources announced the historically lowest initial allocation for the State Water Project (SWP) contractors of 5 percent for water year 2014. The United States Bureau of Reclamation has acknowledged that without significant precipitation, there may be a 0 percent initial allocation for Central Valley Project (CVP) South of Delta (SOD) contractors.

While it is early in the 2014 water year and therefore projections on allocation are conservative, what is clear is that we had two years of dry conditions that have depleted our reservoirs and reduced carryover storage to historically low levels since 1977. Without this carryover storage, the flexibility built into the system to respond to hydrologic conditions and regulatory constraints is critically diminished, with severe impacts to many Californians. This is going to be a very challenging water year for California and a potentially catastrophic year for the Central Valley in particular.

Read the full text of the letter here.

The governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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