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A Fifth Consecutive Year of
Drought for California?

State Water Board Weighs Options


From June 2015 through October 2016, 2.26 million acre-feet of water (736,760,000,000 trillion gallons) were conserved in California. That's enough water supply for more than 11 million people (more than one-quarter of the state's 38 million population) for a year.
Note: One-acre foot of water is 326,000 gallons. Picture one foot of water covering 90 yards, 2 feet of a regulation football field (160' x 300', not including end zones).

The October and November rains in Northern California have been an encouraging start to the 2016-2017 water year (Oct. 1, 2016 - Sept. 30, 2017). However, according to the California Water Boards, 73 percent of the state remains in drought conditions. (Note: One sees drought estimates in the state ranging from 60 to 75%.)

In May 2016, Governor Brown issued an executive order for new permanent water use efficiency targets for each urban water supplier. On Nov. 30, the State Water Board, along with four other state agencies, released a draft plan to implement that order. The plan builds on the success of the mandatory water restrictions. Key water conservation efforts include:

o Permanent bans on wasteful practices, e.g., hosing driveways and excessively watering lawns.
o Technical assistance and financial incentives for water suppliers to implement leak prevention, detection and repair programs.
o Collecting information about innovative water conservation and water loss detection and control technologies.
o Requiring agricultural water suppliers to quantify water use in their service areas and describe measures to increase water use efficiency.
o Full compliance with water use targets for urban water suppliers by 2025.
o Planning and preparing for continued and future drought and water shortages.

State agencies recognize the reality that most of California potentially faces a sixth year of drought. In January the State Water Board will consider whether it will extend the emergency water conservation regulations that have been in effect since Governor Brown's executive order. The State Water Board has already taken action to maintain mandatory reductions in communities that could not verify they have enough water supplies to withstand three more years of severe drought.

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February 15, 2019, 2:13 pm PST

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