Gov. Brown declares California drought officially over

Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties are still considered in drought

CALIFORNIA - Gov. Jerry Brown ended the drought state of emergency in most of California on Friday.

Brown signed an executive order that lifts the drought emergency in all California counties except Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne, where emergency drinking water projects will continue to help address diminished groundwater supplies.

State agencies also released a long-term plan to better prepare the state for future droughts and make conservation a California way of life, the governor's office said.

Building on the successes and lessons learned from California’s five-year drought, the plan establishes a framework for long-term efficient water use that reflects the state’s diverse climate, landscape and demographic conditions, the governor's office said.

“This framework is about converting Californians’ response to the drought into an abiding ethic,” said California Department of Water Resources Acting Director Bill Croyle. “Technically, the drought is over, but this framework extends and expands our dry-year habits. Careful, sparing use of water from backyards to businesses and farm fields will help us endure the next inevitable drought.”

After Brown called for a 25 percent reduction in urban water use in 2015, Californians saved 24 percent during the 12 months the mandate was in place, the governor's office said.

“Californians stepped up big time during the drought,” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “This plan allows us to build on that success and prepare for the longer and more frequent droughts we know are coming under climate change, in a way that is equitable and cost-effective. Efficiency is the cheapest and smartest way to extend our water resources.”

Elements of the plan to conserve water include:

  • Bans on wasteful practices, such as hosing sidewalks and watering lawns after rain.
  • Technical assistance, financial incentives and standards to guide water suppliers’ efforts to detect and repair leaks.
  • Requiring urban water suppliers to prepare water shortage contingency plans, including a drought risk assessment every five years.
  • Requiring more agricultural water suppliers to submit plans that quantify measures to increase water use efficiency and develop adequate drought plans.
  • Monthly reporting by urban water suppliers on water usage, conservation achieved and enforcement efforts
  • Improved drought planning for small water suppliers and rural communities.

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