LOS ANGELES (KCBS) – California’s drought concerns have reached the White House, with President Barrack Obama pledging federal help for the state.
The President called California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday. He “expressed concern for the citizens impacted by the historic drought conditions facing the state,” and also “reinforced his commitment to providing the necessary federal support to the state and local efforts.”
“The agencies are working together to target resources to help California and other impacted states prepare for and lessen the impacts of the drought,” according to a statement from the White House. “USDA is also working with farmers and ranchers to increase their irrigation water efficiency, protect vulnerable soils from erosion, and improve the health of pasture and range lands. And the Bureau of Reclamation is working closely with federal and California state authorities to facilitate water transfers and provide operational flexibility to convey and store available water, and facilitate additional actions that can conserve and move water to critical areas.”
The White House said the National Drought Resilience Partnership would help coordinate the federal response.
This comes as Governor Brown is set to meet on Thursday with more than a dozen water officials, to hammer out a plan to move water supplies from Southern California, to regions like Napa and Sonoma, which could run out of water in the next 100 days.
But Governor Brown tells KCAL-TV in Los Angeles that he knows this won’t be easy to navigate.
“There are some parts of California that are more privileged from the point of views of water availability than others,” Brown said. “So we have systems, we can transfer it. But there are a lot of water rights, a lot of rules. So we have to cut through that and make sure that those who need it most, get the water to the extent we have it available.”
Already, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has banned fishing on some waterways to protect the endangered salmon and steelhead trout, right at the height of winter steelhead season. Among those closed, the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz County and the Big Sur and Eel Rivers in Humboldt County.
And, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has hired an additional 125 seasonal firefighters to beef up wildlife crews, something that usually doesn’t occur until the spring.