San Francisco's newly verdant hilltops don't lie. According to a weekly national report from the US Drought Monitor issued yesterday, 12 percent of California had normal or better moisture and another 12 percent was unusually dry but not in drought. That's the first time since March 2013 that readings have been this favorable says the Associated Press. The wettest section of the state was its northwesternmost, i.e. South Oregon, and the three quarters of California that were arid remained extremely so they are still in the most severe drought category.
The state declared a drought emergency nearly three years ago, and although unprecedented water conservation orders were enacted and then suddenly withdrawn earlier this year, the emergency declaration remains.
"We’ve still got a long way to go for the rest of the state,” Jay Lund, a UC Davis water policy expert, told the Sacramento Bee. That paper explains that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration along with the US Department of Agriculture and the University of Nebraska produced the monitor report.
The drought has not just drained the state's supply of water, but also, to an extent, its coffers. A UC Davis study estimated the drought's cost to the state's economy for the year 2015 to have been $2.7 billion. Water was trucked in to some rural locales, while urban water districts spent widely on water-saving steps from replacement toilets to lawn removal. One drunk man who slashed an inflatable dam was even able to waste 50 million gallons of water all by himself. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
And let's everyone calm down and stop making this sound like the drought is actually close to over with a rash of these headlines, because this was just two days ago: