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SLO County supervisors declare local drought emergency

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Posted at 3:14 PM, Jul 13, 2021

San Luis Obispo County is now facing a local drought emergency.

During Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, a local drought emergency was declared.

Our reservoirs are currently at 19 to 64% capacity with the expectation that they'll dwindle even more.

Extreme drought is gripping most of San Luis Obispo County.

"As time moves along, we will most likely be in D4 category by the time the rain starts in late Fall," said Scott Jalbert, San Luis Obispo County Emergency Services Manager.

Just last week, Governor Gavin Newsom expanded his drought state of emergency proclamation to include San Luis Obispo County.

He also asked Californians to voluntarily cut their water usage by 15%.

Now the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is declaring a local emergency as well.

It opens up funding and means a quicker response.

"For an example, if there's a public works project that they're going to need to put in place to help reduce the impacts of the drought," Jalbert explained in an interview with KSBY on Tuesday.

The county's drought task force, which is lead by Jalbert, is also reassembling to monitor the drought, do impact assessments and public outreach in addition to updating the board.

"Due to county code, we will be coming back every 30 days," Jalbert said.

On top of that, the Low Reservoir Response Plan for Lopez Lake can now be initiated.

"But what it does is it allows public works to utilize that emergency response plan to help with conservation efforts and reduce water usage to slow down the impacts of the drought," Jalbert said.

Reduced rainfall, low reservoir levels, and uncertainty of state water delivery are some of the factors leading to the local emergency that's now in effect.

Meanwhile, cities like Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, and Pismo Beach are already working to conserve water.

The City of Pismo Beach put water restrictions into place on June 1, declaring a moderate emergency.

"Namely, that was a restriction on watering landscaping between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and for both private as well as public landscaping, there are certain days you can water based on your address," said Jorge Garcia, Assistant City Manager for the City of Pismo Beach.

The last emergency of this kind was declared in 2014, expiring three years later.

According to the county, San Luis Obispo County received 5% of water allocation from the state as part of the State Water Project Delivery. In 2022, that'll be 15% or less or possibly zero depending on drought conditions.