Press Release

Governor Newsom Signs Hertzberg Bill Strengthening Drought Response

The Drought Resilient Communities Act will help California combat drought and prevent water shortages in small and rural communities.

September 23, 2021


SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation Thursday that boosts California’s fight against historic and worsening drought conditions. Senate Majority Leader Robert M. Hertzberg's (D-Van Nuys) Drought Resilient Communities Act (SB 552) strengthens drought preparedness in small and rural communities often on the front lines of drought.

“Today our state is reaffirming in the clearest possible terms: access to clean water is a human right,” said Majority Leader Hertzberg. “That right is all the more vital in the midst of historic drought. The impacts of climate crises threaten the livelihoods of countless California families across our state and the Governor’s action today in signing this bill delivers on our promise to keep clean water flowing to our most vulnerable communities.”

In the last major drought that ended in 2016, nearly a half-million Californians were impacted by water shortages, and some were left without running water for extended periods of time. The urgency of the legislation was underscored when one of the state’s largest reservoirs, Lake Oroville, reached its lowest-ever point in August. There are near-daily reports of wells running dry throughout the state. SB 552 improves local planning, enhances statewide coordination and updates emergency responses.

Support for the legislation spans a broad coalition of climate, water and civic engagement advocates.

“History has shown the devastating damage that droughts have on our vulnerable communities. The drought is getting worse by the day, and we must build upon the lessons learned from the last drought. We must have drought resiliency plans that account for every California resident. SB 552 will help us get there.” - Kyle Jones, Policy Director, Community Water Center

"As the frequency and intensity of drought conditions continue, action must be taken to prevent households from losing their drinking water supply. SB 552 protects communities most impacted by the drought by supporting proactive local drought planning and ensuring the human right to water for all." - Cristal Gonzalez, Policy Associate, Clean Water Action

“SB 552 could not have come at a better moment as California water agencies respond to the severe drought and prepare for what could be another dry year in 2022. CMUA members were closely involved in developing this legislation, and we appreciate Senate Majority Leader Hertzberg’s leadership that is improving drought planning and protecting water sources for communities in need.” - Danielle Blacet-Hyden, Deputy Executive Director, California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA)

"California just took an important step to ensure drought preparedness in the most vulnerable communities. SB 552 provides a roadmap for critical and overdue planning." - Juliet Christian Smith, Water Foundation 

"SB 552 establishes basic drought planning and resiliency requirements to help small water systems and domestic well communities prevent water outages. This bill can support ensuring households and communities do not lose access to safe drinking water if paired with effective sustainable groundwater management and reduction in groundwater pumping."
- Nataly Escobedo Garcia, Policy Coordinator, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability




For more information, visit Senator Hertzberg’s website and follow @SenateHertzberg on Twitter.

Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg represents nearly one million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. Learn more at