Despite a drought emergency declaration in northern and central California, the San Diego County Water Authority said Tuesday the region was well-positioned to outlast drought conditions for several decades.
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded a drought emergency declaration from Sonoma and Mendocino counties to 41 counties.
About 30% of the state's population is now covered by the drought declarations, including the greater Sacramento area and Fresno, Merced and Stanislaus counties in the San Joaquin Valley. Southern California has largely been excluded from the declarations.
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"Governor Newsom's latest drought emergency declaration is a grim reminder of the growing water supply challenges across California -- and of the value of three decades of our collective dedication to use water efficiently combined with strategic investments that protect San Diego County from dry years,'' said Gary Croucher, board chair of the San Diego County Water Authority. "Thanks to efforts of ratepayers, the water authority and our 24 member agencies, we have sufficient water supplies for 2021 and the foreseeable future.''
This is the second major drought California has experienced in a decade. The last one ran from 2012-16.
"With the reality of climate change abundantly clear in California, we're taking urgent action to address acute water supply shortfalls in Northern and Central California while also building our water resilience to safeguard communities in the decades ahead,'' Newsom said Monday. "We're working with local officials and other partners to protect public health and safety and the environment, and call on all Californians to help meet this challenge by stepping up their efforts to save water.''
Croucher said regional adoption of water efficiency measures is a major part of San Diego County's strategy to reduce usage. Per capita water use has fallen by close to 50% in the past 30 years, he said.
"At the same time, the rates we pay for water have been invested in new water sources along with major dams and reservoirs that are showing their worth more with each passing day,'' Croucher said.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect projections that San Diego County will have sufficient water supplies well past the next few years, through 2045, according to the Water Authority.