Mar 24, 2023
California Ends Some Water-Use Restrictions After Rains Ease Drought
(Bloomberg) -- California Governor Gavin Newsom lifted many of the water-use restrictions he imposed during the state’s punishing three-year drought, now that months of intense rains have refilled reservoirs and inundated farm fields.
Under an executive order signed on Friday, more than half of the state’s drought provisions were suspended, including a 15% water-conservation target. However, some limits like those on watering ornamental grass at businesses will remain in place. Newsom stopped short of declaring that the drought is over.
“Are we out of the drought? Mostly, but not completely,” Newsom told reporters on Friday. “We’ve got to conserve as a way of life.”
Read More: California’s Crippling Drought Is Almost Over After Big Storms
Newsom imposed the restrictions nearly two years ago, as another dry winter left the nation’s most populous state sinking deeper into drought. But the last three months brought a dramatic turnaround, as a train of intense storms pounded California, triggering floods.
While dry conditions persist in the state’s far north and south, most of California has ample water for the first time in years. State officials said Friday that water agencies serving 27 million people will get 75% of the water they requested from the state this year, compared to the previous plan of 35%.
The move comes amid a prolonged megadrought across the Western US. Much of the region depends on winter-season precipitation to get through the hottest, driest months. And the storms have not replenished reservoirs along the Colorado River, which remain perilously low.
Newsom said that while he wants Californians to continue conserving water, leaving the 15% target in place would have made it harder for the state to mobilize the public for a new round of cuts if the drought comes back.
“When we need it, I want folks to know we need it,” he said.
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