Newsom declares drought emergency in Mendocino, Sonoma counties

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MENDOCINO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Governor Gavin Newsom said he’s still not ready to declare a statewide drought emergency, but he is declaring emergencies in two Northern California counties and directing state agencies to prepare in the event conditions become extreme.

Newsom announced this latest action Wednesday in Mendocino County as the majority of the state sees abnormally dry conditions.

“You can’t focus this state as a one-size-fits-all solution, meaning we have to target our solutions regionally,” Newsom said. “Truly, parts of this state are in extreme conditions like this, other parts of our state are not experiencing the kind of extreme conditions that we’re experiencing here.”

The governor noted both lake capacities are extremely low in Mendocino and Sonoma counties, prompting the declaration.

“If you’re in a different part of the state, you probably need to know that this will one day happen to you,” said Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth. “So that’s to the point of we’re all Californians here and we all need to be doing our part when we have such widespread conditions.”

Wednesday marked the third time in about two weeks the governor said he is not ready to declare a statewide drought emergency.

“I anticipate being strategic and targeted in terms of the formal emergency declarations as needed,” he said. “We won’t wait. We’ll be strategic based upon conditions as they take place.”

But Newsom’s administration is preparing for extreme conditions another drought year could bring.

The governor signed an executive order Wednesday that includes identifying watersheds, natural resources and communities that are at-risk and planning for potential drought response.

Some Republican lawmakers who have urged him to declare a statewide drought emergency said Wednesday the governor’s actions fall short.

In a statement, state Senate Republican leader Scott Wilk said in part, “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.”

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, one of Newsom’s Republican challengers in a likely recall election, also issued a statement:

For weeks, Central Valley leaders and farmers have repeatedly called on Gavin Newsom to declare a full, statewide drought emergency. Today, he refused to do so. We deserve a governor who cares equally about protecting Central Valley agriculture as well as the wine country. That’s one of the many reasons why we’re going to recall Newsom this year.

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer

Newsom said he also expects to provide more funding to deal with drought-related problems in his upcoming updated state budget, which should be out within the next few weeks.

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