Earlier this week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into effect a Proclamation of a State of Emergency, declaring that counties overlapping the Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and Tulare Lake watersheds are now in a state of emergency due to drought conditions. This order, in addition to noting the continued effect of the proclamation of April 21, 2021, declaring an emergency in the Russian River Watershed, will impact 39 counties across the State as well as provide streamlined measures for drought responses.

In addition to this declaration of a state of emergency, the Proclamation included the following operative provisions:

  • Suspends Public Contract Code sections applicable to procurement, state contracts, and fleet assets (including advertising and competitive bidding requirements) for drought responsive actions in the affected counties;
  • Expedites the process for voluntary transfers and suspends notice requirements in Water Code Sections 1726(d) and (f), so long as alternative notice is provided in accord with the Proclamation’s order;
  • Suspends Water Code Section 13247, allowing for non-compliance with Delta Water Quality standards;
  • Directs the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) to consider curtailment of water rights within the affected watersheds;
  • Directs the Department of Finance, along with the Department of Water Resources, the State Water Board, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Food and Agriculture, to:
    • Accelerate funding for water supply enhancement, water conservation, or species conservation projects.
    • Identify unspent funds that can be repurposed to enable projects to address drought impacts.
  • Directs the Department of Water Resources to consider the installation of Emergency Drought Salinity Barriers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta;
  • Directs the Department of Water Resources to consider pump-back deliveries through the State Water Project from areas of relative plenty to areas of relative scarcity where appropriate;
  • Suspends CEQA provisions for the purposes of carrying out or approving any actions provided for in the Proclamation.

Among the counties affected by this Proclamation are the Klamath River Watershed Counties (Del Norte, Humboldt, Modoc, Siskiyou, and Trinity counties), the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed Counties (Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Modoc, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba counties), and the Tulare Lake Watershed Counties (Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Tulare counties).