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Newsom Declares Drought Emergency in 2 Counties. Borgeas Calls for Valley Designation, Too.



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Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared an emergency executive order in two Northern California counties in response to drought conditions affecting much of the state.

Wednesday’s announcement affects Mendocino and Sonoma counties, where Newsom says drought conditions are especially bad. It comes as California is expected to face another devastating wildfire season after a winter with little precipitation.

State Sen. Andreas Borges, a Fresno Republican, responded on social media by urging the governor to also recognize the drought conditions in the San Joaquin Valley.

State Senate GOP Leader Unloads on Newsom

Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita is the Senate Republican Leader. He speculated that Newsom isn’t declaring a statewide drought emergency because of the recall effort against the governor.

“While the overwhelming majority of the state is experiencing extreme drought conditions, Gov. Newsom has chosen to only serve his French Laundry wine and cheese crowd,” said Wilk in a news release.

“The Biden Administration has declared an emergency drought in nearly all California counties, what more does the governor need to get on board with this? Is the threat of a recall holding him back from helping our food producers and the rest of the state? Californians deserve action now, not this unsteady leadership.”

More Emergency Declarations in Pipeline?

State officials at Wednesday’s briefing said the order could expand statewide, and likely will given conditions.

“If you’re in a different part of the state, you probably need to know that this will one day happen to you,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the state Department of Water Resources.

California’s Fourth Driest Year on Record

The order allows the state to prepare for the expected effects of the water shortage more quickly.

“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 in an appearance at the lake.

The state Department of Water Resources says this is the fourth driest year on record statewide, especially in the northern two-thirds of the state. But Newsom said urban Californians are using 16% less water than they were at the start of the last major drought from 2012 to 2016.

Newsom noted that three-quarters of the western United States is in a megadrought.

(Associated Press contributed to this article.)