Dale Kasler and Christopher Cadelago, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
The drought officially ended in most of California on Friday, but state officials vowed to clamp down on wasteful water use and impose a long-term conservation program that could create friction with urban water users.
Following a deluge of wet weather that left reservoirs brimming and the Sierra snowpack bulging, Gov. Jerry Brown declared an end to a drought that brought California some of the driest periods in recorded history.
But the governor warned the state’s groundwater supplies remain perilously low in some areas, and the state will continue to forbid Californians from hosing off sidewalks, watering their lawns during or immediately after rainfalls, and other wasteful practices. Municipalities will have to keep reporting their monthly water usage. With climate change threatening to make future droughts worse, Brown and others called on Californians to remain cautious about water usage.
“The next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in a prepared statement.
Dry weather began in earnest in early 2012. It wasn’t until January 2014, with conditions worsening, that Brown declared a state of emergency and the drought officially began. Friday’s decision rescinds that declaration, as well as most drought-related executive orders he issued when the drought reached its zenith in 2015.
Brown lifted the drought order in every county except Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne, where the governor said emergency drinking water projects will continue to help communities where wells have gone dry. The state will also continue fighting the bark beetle outbreak that has killed millions of trees weakened by drought.