Task Force to Expedite Drought
Association of California Water
Agencies (CDWA) announced TODAY that Gov. Jerry
Brown has directed state officials to begin meeting weekly to assess
whether a drought declaration is needed.
|Governor Jerry Brown|
Department of Water Resources (DWR) Director Mark Cowin, State Water
Board Chair Felicia Marcus,
California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci were instructed to
immediately convene an interagency Drought
Task Force, in a Dec. 17 letter addressed to those officials.
“We must do everything we can to address the
impacts of water shortages and move water from where it is available to where
it is needed,” Brown wrote.
The governor mentioned actions such
as a clearinghouse for water shortage information, regional assessments,
infrastructure improvements and trucking water. Last spring Brown directed
state agencies to cut red tape for voluntary water transfers.
|DWR Director Mark Cowin|
The impetuses for the task force,
Brown said, are this year’s record-dry conditions and the unusually low 5%
initial water allocation of requested deliveries projected from the State Water
government likely will soon follow suit,” Brown wrote, referring to the Central
The California DWR subsequently appointed two experienced managers to review water
allocations and the state’s preparedness for what could be a third consecutive
dry year in 2014, as well as coordinate with federal and local agencies.
DWR Director Mark Cowin has
appointed Bill Croyle to lead the
effort as department drought manager. Croyle has 30 years of experience in
water operations, including seven years as DWR’s flood operations chief
and 23 years with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Cowin tapped Jeanine Jones as deputy drought manager. Also a 30-year veteran of
DWR, Jones has directed the department’s statewide planning program and worked
on climate change adaptation programs as DWR’s interstate resources manager.
Cowin said the goal of the drought
preparedness effort is to mitigate harm to Californians and the state’s
economy, particularly farmers who must operate with markedly less water than
needed for crops and those who rely on groundwater. Especially vulnerable to
dry conditions will be farmers –and the farm communities that depend on
agricultural jobs — on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
DWR will also be watching for
drinking water impacts in small rural communities whose fractured rock
groundwater sources will be stressed by a third dry year. The U.S. Department
of Agriculture declared California a drought disaster area in September.
As Background, CDFA and CWC held a
joint meeting concerning the state’s water supply back on September 10th in
On December 9, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Jim Costa (D-16) sent a joint letter to
Gov. Jerry Brown asking him to declare a statewide drought emergency that would
activate the state’s emergency plan and permit some relaxation of state
regulations concerning water.
California members of
the U.S. Congress and California State Legislature issued a letter to President
Obama and Governor Brown On December. They urged immediate use of executive
authority to mitigate the catastrophic effects of another natural drought
exacerbated by environmental regulations to avoid jeopardizing our state’s
trillion-dollar economy, to develop and implement comprehensive water plans
that include additional storage and water rights, and to allocate any
unanticipated water supplies to California’s families and farms and not to the
“It’s still early in the water
year,” Cowin said in a statement Tuesday. “The January and February snow
surveys will allow us to evaluate water conditions on a statewide basis. As we
monitor water conditions, we will consider actions to be included in a
potential governor’s drought proclamation.”
DWR and the Brown administration
are working on an array of issues related to the ongoing dry conditions. In response to Brown's direction last spring for DWR to take action to streamline water transfers, Cowin said the department is bringing in more expertise to work on the issue.
DWR also is working with the Bureau
of Reclamation and the federal and state wildlife agencies to improve Delta operations
in 2014 to improve water delivery.
“Voluntary water transfers will be
key to DWR’s drought response, as they hold the potential to alleviate critical
shortages,” Cowin said. “We are making arrangements to bring additional
resources with expertise in water transfers to advise the Drought Management
Team to assure that the 2014 water transfers approval process is administered
DWR has released a schedule and
process for streamlining water transfers in 2014, as directed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s May 20 executive
order. “We will continue to work with voluntary buyers, sellers, the State
Water Resources Control Board and the Bureau of Reclamation to ensure an
efficient process,” Cowin said.
California Department of Food and
Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross
complimented DWR on its efforts to respond quickly. “While 2014 water
allocations are not finalized until spring, farmers and ranchers make key
decisions in January and February,” said Secretary Ross. “By acting now to
streamline water transfers and provide clarity, the administration is helping
our agricultural communities prepare for the coming water year.”
The department also is hosting workshops to prepare
communities for dry conditions. The State Water Resources Control Board will
discuss potential future actions related to drought at a Jan. 7 California
State Board of Food and Agriculture meeting.
Labels: California Ag News, Drought Preparedness, Drought Preparedness and CDWA DWR CDFA CWC, Governor Brown Convenes Drought Task Force, Task force to Expedite