CA legislators ask Newsom to declare state of emergency

California's hottest commodity could become even more scarce as state and federal officials announce water cutbacks on the brink of another drought.

Video Transcript

NATHALIE GRANDA: Morning, Margot. State Senator Andreas Borgeas says the declaration would essentially help ease water restrictions and expedite water transfers. Despite working tirelessly through the pandemic, Borgeas says the jobs of many farm industry employees, as well as millions of agricultural dollars, could be on the line due to the reduced water access.

California's hottest commodity could become even more scarce as state and federal officials announced water cutbacks on the brink of another drought. Now, state legislators are banding together to ask Governor Newsom to declare a state of emergency amid what they call a water crisis.

ANDREAS BORGEAS: And if we don't take corrective action now, it could be catastrophic.

NATHALIE GRANDA: State Senator Andreas Borgeas authored this letter alongside the Assembly Agriculture Committee chair and several other state lawmakers to send to the governor. This comes after the California Department of Water Resources announced a 5% allocation to farmers and growers in late March.

ANDREAS BORGEAS: A declaration of emergency would empower Governor Newsom, as I mentioned, to relax some of these environmental and regulatory and administrative impediments so water can be transferred more quickly, more easily between users.

NATHALIE GRANDA: Meanwhile, the US Bureau of Reclamation announced the South of Delta allocation of 5% would, quote, "not be available for delivery until further notice." For Fresno County farmer Daniel Hartwig, who depends on the Federal Water allocations, the uncertainty brings on problems.

DANIEL HARTWIG: When or if we're going to get any water. And when we don't know if we're going to get water, you know, it just creates a lot of uncertainty in terms of, you know, we can plant any additional crops, you know, provide jobs to folks on the West side, those-- those residents that live out there.

NATHALIE GRANDA: Borgeas' letter also asked for a meeting with water industry leaders to determine what state and federal dollars California could be eligible for to improve water infrastructure and allocations for both state and federal users, especially ahead of what's expected to be the start of a difficult and dry year.

RYAN JACOBSEN: Being able to increase that allocation from the state water project does help anybody south of Delta because it does make more water available to be able to trade, transfer, and utilize where folks need it.

NATHALIE GRANDA: Now, Borgeas says they did receive a call back from the governor's office as of Tuesday and remain hopeful that they may receive some follow up from them in the next few days. In the studio, Nathalie Granda, ABC 30 Action News.