California governor declares end to drought emergency

Troy Powers
April 8, 2017

Brown also said the need for conservation continued.

The drought emergency was lifted in all counties except for Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne, where emergency drinking water programs will continue to take pressure off depleted groundwater supplies.

Jerry Brown has declared an end to the state's water emergency following a five-year drought that reduced rivers to trickles, farmland to dust and forests to graveyards of dead trees.

California's drought ran from the 2012 to 2016 water years, with 2012 to 2015 being the state's driest years on record.

A visitor walks near the receding waters at Folsom Lake, which is 17 percent of its capacity, in Folsom, California.

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"We stand ready to assist with implementing an approach that is workable for water agencies and their customers, and look forward to ensuring that conservation and water-use efficiency move forward as essential elements of the California Water Action Plan".

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Requiring urban water suppliers to prepare water shortage contingency plans, including a drought risk assessment every five years.

The governor's announcement came as an unusually strong spring storm slammed the northern and central parts of the state, inching annual rainfall totals in many areas closer to the all-time record set in 1982-83.

Asking water districts to report data electronically in the same format is a critically important change that can only further our understanding of how agriculture uses water.

FILE - In this March 30, 2017 file photo, snow falls on a meadow near the site where the Department of Water Resources conducts the snow survey near Echo Summit, Calif. Gov.

Even though the drought is officially over, groundwater supplies remain below normal, the Natural Resources Defense Council cautioned in a statement. "[But] the next drought could be around the corner", he stated in a a press release.

The plan involved extensive stakeholder outreach and engagement, with more than 20 public meetings held around the state. New rules are expected to permanently ban wasteful practices, such as hosing off sidewalks and watering landscapes in the days after it rains.

Brown's order maintains numerous conservation practices put in place in 2015, including mandatory reports on water usage, restrictions on using nonrecirculated water in fountains and bans on watering lawns within 48 hours of significant rainfall.