FRESNO, Calif. — Water regulators in California on Wednesday extended what are now largely symbolic conservation measures lingering from the drought after the state has seen one of the wettest winters in years.
Regulators decided to retain the measures at least until spring as a precaution against the possible return of dry weather — even as another major storm bears down on the state.
“I don’t think there’s just one way to go,” Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, said after several local water districts urged members to lift the regulations. “The better decision is to extend it and see later where we are.”
The current regulations are largely symbolic because roughly 80 percent California water districts say they have ample supplies and aren’t requiring residents to cut back on water.
The regulations require water districts to make monthly reports on their water use and prohibit residents from wasting water, such as washing sidewalks with a hose and turning on sprinklers after it rains.
Californians heeded the call to conserve water during the height of the five-year drought. But opponents of the regulations say the weather has dramatically changed.
“Here in San Diego County we are not experiencing drought conditions — many areas of the state are not,” said Dana Friehauf, water resources manager of the San Diego County Water Authority, which has invested millions of dollars in desalination and water efficiency.
“We’re going to continue to encourage people to use water efficiently,” she said. “We don’t need the drought emergency regulations in place to have folks do that.”
State residents used roughly 20 percent less water in December compared to the same time in 2013, the year before the drought emergency was declared, officials reported during the board meeting.
Enough water has been saved since mandatory conservation began in June 2015 to serve nearly one-third of the state’s population for a year.
In January, storms drenched the state and filled some reservoirs. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides much of the state’s water as it melts in the spring, recently measured at 182 percent of normal.Read More...
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