SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

Santa Barbara County joined Gov. Jerry Brown late Friday in declaring a drought emergency. County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato, acting as the Director of Emergency Services, proclaimed a local emergency following the Governor's declaration earlier in the morning.

Santa Barbara County has also been designated as a primary natural disaster area due to drought conditions.

County Supervisors are expected to ratify Miyasoto's declaration in a meeting on  January 21st.

“For many of our water purveyors, as well as our agricultural industry, the lack of rainfall is causing some serious concern”, Miyasato said. “With the long term prospects of significant rain looking dim, and with our local supplies significantly strained, we need to all be aware of the reality, ” she said.

Part of the declaration calls for an immediate voluntary 20% water reduction by residents. Lake Cachuma is currently below 40% capacity.  As water in the lake dwindles, emergency pumping will be needed to move the water to southern county locations.

Gov. Jerry Brown Friday issued the State of Emergency and directed state officials to deal with weather conditions now officially declared to be a drought during an announcement in San Francisco Friday morning.

“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” Brown said.  “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible,” he said.

Farmers and communities that take financial hits from the low water conditions will receive state assistance under the Governor's declaration.

State agencies have been directed to reduce water usage, hire additional firefighters and ramp up public awareness campaigns.

Some of the state's river and reservoirs are below record low levels.  Readings taken to measure snow levels in the Sierra are at about 20 percent of average for this time of year.

The full text of Gov. Brown's emergency proclamation is below:

A PROCLAMATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY

WHEREAS the State of California is experiencing record dry conditions, with 2014 projected to become the driest year on record; and

WHEREAS the state’s water supplies have dipped to alarming levels, indicated by: snowpack in California’s mountains is approximately 20 percent of the normal average for this date; California’s largest water reservoirs have very low water levels for this time of year; California’s major river systems, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, have significantly reduced surface water flows; and groundwater levels throughout the state have dropped significantly; and

WHEREAS dry conditions and lack of precipitation present urgent problems: drinking water supplies are at risk in many California communities; fewer crops can be cultivated and farmers’ long-term investments are put at risk; low-income communities heavily dependent on agricultural employment will suffer heightened unemployment and economic hardship; animals and plants that rely on California’s rivers, including many species in danger of extinction, will be threatened; and the risk of wildfires across the state is greatly increased; and

WHEREAS extremely dry conditions have persisted since 2012 and may continue beyond this year and more regularly into the future, based on scientific projections regarding the impact of climate change on California’s snowpack; and

WHEREAS the magnitude of the severe drought conditions presents threats beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single local government and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to combat; and

WHEREAS under the provisions of section 8558(b) of the California Government Code, I find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist in California due to water shortage and drought conditions with which local authority is unable to cope.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the state Constitution and statutes, including the California Emergency Services Act, and in particular, section 8625 of the California Government Code HEREBY PROCLAIM A STATE OF EMERGENCY to exist in the State of California due to current drought conditions.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

1.State agencies, led by the Department of Water Resources, will execute a statewide water conservation campaign to make all Californians aware of the drought and encourage personal actions to reduce water usage. This campaign will be built on the existing Save Our Water campaign (www.saveourh20.org) and will coordinate with local water agencies. This campaign will call on Californians to reduce their water usage by 20 percent.

2.Local urban water suppliers and municipalities are called upon to implement their local water shortage contingency plans immediately in order to avoid or forestall outright restrictions that could become necessary later in the drought season. Local water agencies should also update their legally required urban and agricultural water management plans, which help plan for extended drought conditions. The Department of Water Resources will make the status of these updates publicly available.

3.State agencies, led by the Department of General Services, will immediately implement water use reduction plans for all state facilities. These plans will include immediate water conservation actions, and a moratorium will be placed on new, non-essential landscaping projects at state facilities and on state highways and roads.

4.The Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) will expedite the processing of water transfers, as called for in Executive Order B-21-13. Voluntary water transfers from one water right holder to another enables water to flow where it is needed most.

5.The Water Board will immediately consider petitions requesting consolidation of the places of use of the State Water Project and Federal Central Valley Project, which would streamline water transfers and exchanges between water users within the areas of these two major water projects.