California Gov. Brown: Drought Over, Conservation Must Go On

The governor signed an executive order Friday that lifted the state of emergency declaration he signed in 2014, which directed the state to take "all necessary actions" to prepare for drought conditions.

Brown cited unprecedented water conservation and plentiful winter rain and snow for his decision Friday, but cautioned that another drought “could be just around the corner”.

Brown also said the need for conservation continued.

The drought had a significant impact on groundwater supplies in Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties, and the state of emergency will remain in effect in those areas.

California's recent historic drought included the driest four-year period, the warmest three years and the smallest Sierra snowpack in state history, while this winter's storms created one of the highest precipitation totals in the last 150 years.

"This framework is about converting Californians' response to the drought into an abiding ethic", said California Department of Water Resources Acting Director Bill Croyle. The plan requires new legislation to establish long-term water conservation measures, plus improved planning for more frequent severe droughts.

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The state water agencies recently released a plan to permanently ban practices that are deemed wasteful.

Many Californians rose to the challenge with a almost 25 percent average reduction in urban water use statewide. Officials will still require some long-term water-use limits imposed previous year and are developing water preservation standards for urban agencies. In year prior, "exceptional drought" hit most of the state, including the Bay Area.

Water conservation will become a way of life in the state, said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board.

But what's really disturbing is that most of that water - billions of gallons of it - flowed unchecked into the ocean because California hasn't gotten around to ensuring there are enough ways to capture and store it. Many have swapped out lawns for drought-tolerant landscapes, attached low-flow shower and faucet heads and have ratted on their neighbors for running sprinklers during a rain storm or nonwatering days.

The latest order also rescinds four previous drought-related executive orders and two emergency proclamations.

The post California's five-year drought is over, governor declares appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

  • Rita Burton