Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that many of the state’s strictest water conservation measures, implemented nearly two years ago, will be lifted.
Newsom signed an executive order that revoked more than 50 of the 81 drought emergency provisions that he put in place in April 2021, including the voluntary 15% statewide water conservation target and the mandate that about 450 local water agencies make their own drought contingency plans, according to KRON4.
KRON4 reported that the 15% conservation goal helped Californians save roughly 600,000 acre-feet of water — enough to supply water to 1.2 million households for a year.
In places like this farm in Dunnigan, Californians are recharging groundwater thanks to recent storms.— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) March 24, 2023
Today, we announced the rollback of some drought restrictions across the state as we continue investing in water capture and storage to prepare for drier months. pic.twitter.com/UJcGIXpfvZ
The state also announced nearly 30 public water agencies, serving 27 million Californians, will receive increased water deliveries. The agencies will now receive 75% of the requested water supplies, which marks a significant increase from the 35% announced in February, and the highest delivery rate since 2017.
“We’ve been able to do this because of the series of winter storms that have really provided robust flows throughout the system,” John Yarbrough, assistant deputy director at the Californian Department Of Water Resources, told the L.A. Times. He added that the allocation could increase even more in April.
Still, Newsom stopped short of declaring that the recent three-year drought was over in the state. The executive order maintained provisions around wasteful water use, including prohibitions on watering lawns within 48 hours of rainfall and using hoses without shut-off nozzles, as well as watering nonfunctional turf at commercial properties, the L.A. Times also reported.
“The weather whiplash we’ve experienced in the past few months makes it crystal clear that Californians and our water system have to adapt to increasingly extreme swings between drought and flood,” Newsom said in the press release. “As we welcome this relief from the drought, we must remain focused on continuing our all-of-the-above approach to future-proofing California’s water supply.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that about 65% of the state is no longer in drought after the winter’s precipitation — compared to almost 100% of the state under some form of drought or dry conditions about three months ago.
Image via CA Governor's Office.