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San Joaquin County supervisors declare local drought emergency

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Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 2:56 pm | Updated: 7:50 am, Wed Jan 29, 2014.

Following California’s driest year on record, supervisors declared a drought emergency in San Joaquin County on Tuesday.

The board of supervisors’ unanimous vote during a meeting in Stockton allows farmers and companies that rely on agriculture, such as freight lines, to receive state and federal funding. The declaration will also help water suppliers better adapt in the event that drought conditions become worse.

While the declaration doesn’t impose limits on water usage, it is a reminder for residents to begin conserving water, especially with drought conditions expected to grow more severe, said Michael Cockrell, San Joaquin County’s director of emergency operations.

During a meeting between the Office of Emergency Services and an agricultural task force consisting of all the cities and irrigation districts throughout the county, Cockrell said it was determined that water-rationing measures are not yet required.

However, during the summer and fall, that option may become a reality.

During a presentation in front of supervisors on Tuesday, the Office of Emergency Services discussed the current effects of the drought, including on agriculture, the county’s largest industry.

There has not been an adequate amount of grass to feed cattle. There will likely not be enough water for crop-growers to meet yields. And farmers have been forced to increase irrigation.

Supervisor Ken Vogel, who is also a farmer, said he has already irrigated three times this year. He added that almond trees are beginning to bloom, which is a concern with late-season frost expected.

Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency and named several counties, including San Joaquin County, as part of a disaster zone.

State reservoirs are critically low and several cities, including Sacramento, have implemented water-rationing measures.

Last year was the state’s third consecutive year of below-normal precipitation. According to Weather Underground’s Lodi Lake station, there were 6.04 inches of rain, compared to an average of 17.56 inches.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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