Two California Counties Officially Under Drought Emergency

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Wildfires in Mendocino and Sonoma counties have taken their toll.

California is no stranger to the scourge of drought. The hot seasons often bring an elevated risk to the western state every year, exacerbated by certain water-heavy farming practices. The risk of drought has only grown greater in recent years due to the rash of brush fires burning off large swaths of land and causing mass drying in the soil and air. While water supplies vary across the entire state, it’s officially reached emergency status for two of its northernmost counties.


California Governor Gavin Newsom, speaking from the dried-out shores of Lake Mendocino, declared an official drought emergency for Mendocino and Sonoma counties. With this declaration, state regulators will have more sway in the divisions of the Russian River watershed, as well as river flow regulations from the state’s reservoirs.

“Oftentimes we overstate the word historic, but this is indeed an historic moment, certainly historic for this particular lake, Mendocino, which is at 43% of its capacity this time of year,” Newsom said.

Newsom also admitted that drought or drought-like conditions aren’t exclusive to these two counties, and that the entire state is at potential risk. Newsome has been under pressure from local legislators recently to declare a statewide drought, but since the southern counties have been supplemented by state and federal water systems more than rainfall, they aren’t in as dire a situation. Newsom also noted that overall urban water usage has dropped 13% since the last major drought event in California, something which he attributed to Californians having a “conservation mind-set.”

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