• 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 May 10, 2021 to include Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Tulare Lake Watershed counties. There are now a total of 41 counties under a targeted State of Emergency due to drought.

The initial Drought Proclamation was released April 21, 2021 and included Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Both proclamations include specific actions to further coordination and partnerships to prioritize drought response and preparedness throughout the state. As California enters its second dry year and conditions within the state shift, more counties may be added to the proclamation.

Newsom also announced his $5.1 billion budget proposal to bolster the state’s drought and water resilience, including investments in water infrastructure and $1 billion in federal Rescue Plan Act funds to help Californians pay their water bill debt due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.

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. ACWA and its member agencies are also advocating for state and federal funding to improve aging water infrastructure to ensure a more reliable, resilient water supply.

2021 Updates

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.


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.


Below are a number of resources available to help ACWA member agencies stay informed about the current drought situation.

ACWA Resources

ACWA Comment Letters

State Pages

Background Legislation