County water officials say they have been preparing for what Governor Jerry Brown has now declared as official – the state is in a drought emergency.
Calling for all citizens to voluntarily reduce water use by 20 percent, Brown made the announcement at a January 17 press conference. The move, amid California’s driest year on record, enables the state to seek federal help.
The news was welcomed by members of the county board of supervisors, who also sit as the directors of the Sonoma County Water Agency. The agency serves the Valley of the Moon Water District, and the City of Sonoma water department.
Director Susan Gorin said the drought requires immediate action by everyone in the community. “Mandated or not, all of us should be saving water however we can,” Gorin said. “Community members should contact their local water utility to learn more about water conservation rebate programs.”
The water agency began implementing many of the declaration’s calls to action ahead of Brown’s announcement because “we saw the writing on the wall,” said Chairman David Rabbitt. “We took immediate action to preserve water in Lake Mendocino when we saw no rain in the forecast and falling reservoir levels. We will get through this drought by working together and saving every drop of water we can.”
Water Agency Director Shirlee Zane said, “It is essential that we take advantage of regulatory and funding opportunities provided by this declaration.” She called for implementing water conservation rebate programs and moving forward now on long-term water supply projects, such as aquifer storage and recovery or recycled water projects.
“Bottom line,” said Director Efren Carrillo, “there’s a drought on. Turn your water off.”
The Water Agency has created a web page dedicated to drought news and information: Sonomacountywater.org.