Gov. Brown: California Emergency Drought Has Ended

On the heels of what is becoming one of the wettest rainfall seasons in California, Gov. Jerry Brown's proclamation Friday declaring an end to the drought that began more than five years ago.

Conservation will surely still continue, as Californians cut down on their water use by more than 22-percent from June 2015 to January 2017.

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.

"Technically, the drought is over, but this framework extends and expands our dry-year habits", California Department of Water Resources Acting Director Bill Croyle said in a statement.

Last May, City Manager Evert Palmer required Folsom residents to conserve their water usage by 10 percent and Yasutake said the city will continue to keep this requirement in place.

In a related action, state agencies issued a plan to establish long-term conservation measures across California.

"With climate change and another record hot year globally, we can not count on future years to be this generous". According to the governor's office, California residents reduced urban water use across the state during the drought by almost 25 percent. Instead, it's been replaced with a new statewide water-efficiency plan. "Careful, sparing use of water from backyards to businesses and farm fields will help us endure the next inevitable drought". Officials say they will work aggressively to stop leaks that waste water.

Water regulators also released a long-term plan that requires water agencies set new conservation targets by 2021.

More than 31 percent of California was in the most severe category - exceptional drought - in April 2016.

Because of the changes, the state is looking to make water-use restrictions permanent.

"There's a societal change in our attitudes - not just about watering use but what makes for a attractive outdoor ornamental landscape that's part and parcel of a major mind-set shift for many Californians", said Marcus. 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 drought has strained the farming communities in the state and is estimated to have killed more than 100 million trees.

Pushing California agriculture to become more efficient not only saves water, but it also can help farmers improve profits by encouraging them to find ways to maximize yields while reducing inputs (and costs) - in other words, to grow more crop per drop.

  • Zachary Reyes