A 34 percent full Lopez Lake was the backdrop of Governor Gavin Newsom and Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot's press conference Thursday to issue two drought-related declarations.

Worsening drought conditions led the Governor to designate nine additional counties, including San Luis Obispo, as being in states of emergency. After Thursday's action, 50 of California's 58 counties are under a state of emergency declaration for drought. Newsom also issued a declaration calling for voluntary conservation measures to reduce water use by 15 percent across the state.

Of particular interest to the agriculture community, Newsom hinted that the state wants to expand well monitoring and data collection from farmers. An unidentified reporter at Thursday's press conference asked:

“So you are asking for voluntary reductions of about 15 percent, so how do you expect to measure that in terms of agricultural use when most of the agricultural wells don’t have meters on them?” 
Newsom: “It’s a challenge. We have we have a system that hasn't been modernized. We're gonna have investments that are unprecedented, as I noted, including that $5.1 billion that cuts across the spectrum. Big part of that will be around data… I can't tell you how many conversations we've had in the last six months specifically to your question. What this state simply does not know is jaw dropping as it relates to that question, and the fact that over decades we haven't sought to get those answers is curious and questionable. Self-evidently, it has to be addressed. We are beginning the process of more comprehensively addressing it, putting resources into that space, but we do have a requirement pursuant to the executive order that I just signed that has a monthly data report that must come out from the State Water Board. That data will include industrial, residential, and to the extent we can't quantify with available resources, the agriculture use, that will also be included in those monthly reports.”

Meanwhile, California farmers and ranchers point to a failure of state leaders in recent decades to invest in water storage and infrastructure projects. Earlier this year when Newsom declared drought emergencies across much of the state, California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson commented, “By widening the drought emergency, the governor has recognized the reality facing much of rural California: Our future is not guaranteed,” Johansson said. “By proposing to invest in canal repairs and other projects, he has shown a willingness to address part of that longer-term problem, but where are the projects the voters invested in when they approved a water bond seven years ago?"