Governor Jerry Brown to declare end of drought
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger came to Fresno, to declare a drought emergency in 2009. Using the situation to call for improvements to the state's water system.
"We have a water system that was designed for 18 million people. We know have 38 million people." Schwarzenegger said.
His declaration allowed for some minor adjustments in water transfers. But his focus on the problem, combined with protests orchestrated by Valley water users pushed the legislature into approving putting a $12 billion bond issue before the voters to improve the water system, for farms and cities. The actual vote however, has been put off until next year.
Governor Jerry Brown's declaration that the drought is over is based on the latest snowpack figures, which indicate the level is 165% of normal.
Ted Thomas, of the State Department of Water Resources says it's a largely symbolic declaration. "The Governor's rescinding of the declaration really has no major impacts on us day to day. It does however make it clear that we are out of the drought."
Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson says declaring the drought over doesn't mean the water supply problems have been solved. "We've got land laying idle because of no water still, we've got people unemployed because of no water, still."
While growers on the East side of the Valley are getting 100% of the water they contract with the government to receive, the Westlands Water District, which Larson represents, is getting 65%. That's a better than average allotment, but Larson believes with all this water they should get more and Westlands spokesperson Gayle Holman says there are already concerns for the next season.
Holman said, "It is hard to remember that when we're looking at record snowfall record rainfall flooding in areas it's hard to believe that in a few months we will be dry again and we need to have some assurance we're going to be able to get through another dry period."
Supervisor Larson is concerned that all the water we're receiving this year will make the drought a distant memory to voters, when the water bond issue finally comes to a vote next year.
jerry brown, california water, state, gene haagenson
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