Last May, Governor Brown passed Executive Order B-37-16 which aims to improve drought planning and resiliency in California communities, and make water conservation a way of life throughout the state. The Order provides urban water agencies guidance for developing new water use targets permanently prohibits wasteful water practices. It recommends the development of Water Shortage Contingency Plans (both for urban water agencies and small, rural water systems), and updates to Agricultural Water Management Plans. A draft report outlining recommendations for implementation of this executive order was released yesterday, see here.
One component of the executive order called on counties to work with the state to develop "improved drought planning" for those areas not covered by Urban Water Management Plans (i.e., small and rural communities). This is essential, since small and rural communities tend to be the most vulnerable to drought impacts. For example, in East Porterville, over 800 private wells went dry, leaving some families without running water for over three years. In communities like East Porterville, it is not simply a matter of mandating water conservation when a drought hits. Residents' household wells are shallow, and often families are already using a below-average amount of water in their homes.
The following recommendations were noted the in the draft report, which will help to improve the drought response in small and rural communities:
Improve assessment of drought vulnerability to understand relative risks and prioritize actions,
Take proactive actions to reduce drought vulnerability when and where appropriate, and
Improve availability and readiness of appropriate responses for when drought impacts do occur, including financing when and where appropriate.
Improved drought planning discussions will continue into 2017, with stakeholder input from counties, small rural water systems, and private well owners being a necessary component. Contact Kelsey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-706-3346 for more information and to get involved!