California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday added San Francisco and seven other counties that weren't in his previous emergency declarations following the State Water Resources Control Board's report that statewide water usage was down 5% from 2019 levels in August, the first full month after Newsom called on state residents to reduce water usage by 15%.
"As the western U.S. faces a potential third year of drought, it's critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible," Newsom said in a statement. "With historic investments and urgent action, the state is moving to protect our communities, businesses and ecosystems from the immediate impacts of the drought emergency while building long-term water resilience to help the state meet the challenge of climate change impacts making droughts more common and more severe."
Over 87% of the state is in "extreme" or "exceptional" drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, with nearly half of the state (45.66%) falling into the latter category. That includes all of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties, as well as parts of San Francisco and Santa Clara counties. San Mateo is the only Bay Area county that is entirely experiencing “extreme” drought conditions.
Newsom stopped shy of issuing mandatory water conservation across the state, instead directing the water resources board to ban wasteful water practices like using drinkable water to wash sidewalks, driveways and buildings. The California Office of Emergency Services is also authorized, if necessary, to fund drinking water.
California hasn't issued a mandatory statewide water use reduction since former Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the state’s first in 2015. The state started to lift some restrictions the following June.