Gov. Brown Extends Calif. Ban on Water Wasting

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Californians will remain under strict drought orders after Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday that water suppliers and residents must continue to meet permanent water-conservation mandates.
     Citing a fifth consecutive year of persistent drought, Brown ordered water suppliers to continue monthly water-use reporting and instituted permanent bans on “wasteful ” urban practices like hosing off driveways and washing cars without using shut-off nozzles.
     The executive order also bans Californians from watering lawns within 48 hours of rainfall and directs regulators to develop new drought plans for 2017.
     “Californians stepped up during this drought and saved more water than ever before,” Brown said in a statement. “But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence and water conservation must be a part of our everyday life.”
     Brown’s office said that despite the wettest winter the state has seen in five years, the permanent bans are aimed at “bolstering California’s climate and drought resilience” and preparing the state for future droughts fueled by climate change.
     The California State Water Resources Control Board started enforcing drought orders in 2014 and Brown introduced the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions in April 2015. The Golden State largely answered Brown’s water conservation pleas, combining to slash urban water use by 23.9 over the last 10 months compared to the same months in 2013.
     While El Nino failed to produce drought-busting amounts of rain this winter like officials had hoped, the state’s largest reservoirs sit above historic averages for this time of the year thanks to several March storms.
     The healthy reservoir levels have spurred some cities and water suppliers to ask for lower conservation targets going forward. Many districts claimed that the statewide 25 percent water conservation goal failed to account for differences in regional climates, specifically the state’s inland communities that routinely experience 100-degree summer days.
     Following Brown’s announcement, the water board issued a draft proposal that would end the mandatory 25 percent statewide target and introduce standards based upon each supplier’s specific circumstances. The proposal would require cities to “self-certify” the amount of water they should have assuming three more years of drought and adjust conservation targets accordingly.
     Under the proposal, if a supplier predicts that three years of drought would leave it with a 15 percent shortfall, then its mandated target would be 15 percent.
     The water board will discuss and vote on the draft proposal later this month.
     As of Thursday, nearly half of the Golden State remains in extreme drought with more than 34 million of the state’s nearly 39 million residents experiencing some degree of drought. When Brown issued the mandatory drought order 13 months ago, 66 percent of the state was considered to be in extreme drought.

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