After an exceptionally wet winter brought rains and record snowpack to the Sierra Nevada mountains, "This drought emergency is over," Governor Jerry Brown declared today, calling an official end to drought conditions that had entered their sixth year. "[But] the next drought could be around the corner," he stated in a a press release. "Conservation must remain a way of life," Brown emphasized.
With an Executive Order, Brown lifted the drought emergency he declared three years ago in all California counties except for Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Tuolumne counties where emergency drinking water projects continue due to low groundwater supplies. The order today rescinds emergency proclamations made in first January and then April 2014 and four drought-related executive orders made in relation to the crisis.
As of February the drought was virtually over, with the preponderance of the state out of the "extreme" and "exceptional" drought conditions that remained until months ago. In, November, 75 percent of the state was still in drought, for example.
Severely dry conditions across much of the state began in the winter of 2011-2012, and their damage will "linger for years in many areas," reads the governor's statement on the matter. 2014, 2015, and 2016 were the state's first, second, and third warmest years on record, statistics that emphasize the challenges ahead. Many Californians rose to the challenge with a nearly 25 percent average reduction in urban water use statewide.
Incidentally, celebrations of another nature are in order for Governor Brown today. The politician who first became governor at age 36 is now 79.