• Apr 21, 2021

California has experienced many periods of drought and weather extremes, which due to climate change, are occurring more frequently. Governor Newsom expanded his Drought Proclamation for the second time July 8, 2021 to include Inyo, Marin, Mono, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. There are now a total of 50 counties under a targeted State of Emergency due to drought. As conditions within the state shift, more counties may be added to the proclamation. In addition, Newsom released an Executive Order asking Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15% from their 2020 levels.

Water and wastewater agencies continue to prepare by utilizing lessons learned from the 2012-’16 drought. ACWA member agencies continue to support local investments in water supply resilience and continue to make water efficiency a California way of life so the state is always prepared for these climactic extremes. Learn more about how member agencies are responding here.

2021 Updates

8/31/21: State Water Board informational webinar on curtailment and reporting orders
8/20/21: State Water Board issued curtailment orders to approximately 4,500 right holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta.
7/8/21: Gov. Newsom extends Drought Proclamation to include 50 counties
7/8/21: Gov. Newsom releases EO asking Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15% from 2020 levels
5/10/21: Gov. Newsom announces $5.1 billion plan for water infrastructure, drought response and $1 billion to help Californians pay overdue water bills
5/10/21: Gov. Newsom extends Drought Proclamation to include 41 counties
4/21/21: Gov. Newsom releases Drought Proclamation declaring State of Emergency in Mendocino & Sonoma County
4/1/21: DWR April 1 snow survey show critically dry year
3/30/21: ACWA releases Drought Toolkit for members
3/23/21: DWR lowers initial State Water Project allocations from 10% to 5%
3/23/21: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announces South-of-Delta agricultural repayment and water service contractors will have delayed access to water allocation
3/15/21: California Natural Resources Agency releases 2012-2016 Drought Report
 2/5/21: State Water Board releases “Water Rights Drought Effort Review”
February: State Water Board releases “Recommendations for an Effective Water Rights Response to Climate Change”

Water Use Efficiency

In 2018, the California Legislature enacted two key policy bills—Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668—to implement a new framework for long-term water conservation and drought planning for water suppliers. The two bills provide new and expanded authorities and requirements that affect water conservation and drought planning for water supplies, agricultural water suppliers, and small water suppliers and rural communities.

The Department of Water Resources (DWR), the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), and other state agencies are currently implementing the legislation and developing data, information, guidelines and other technical assistance to help realize the bill’s intended outcomes. ACWA continues to engage on this issue through the Water Use Efficiency Work Group. Members interested in participating can contact ACWA Regulatory Relations Manager Chelsea Haines.

More information is available on ACWA’s Water Use Efficiency Page.

Member Agency Efforts

Read the articles below to learn more about how ACWA member agencies are working towards a reliable and resilient water supply. Also, visit ACWA’s drought response page to learn how member agencies are responding to the drought. Member agencies are encouraged to submit water resilience stories here.


ACWA’s Drought Toolkit is available to assist ACWA member agencies with drought messaging as they engage with customers, stakeholders and the media. The toolkit includes urban and agriculture-related talking points and a climate resiliency handout.

The Save Our Water Partner Toolkit includes videos, radio ads, signage and social media graphics that can be used by agencies and municipalities.