El Nino helped, but no panacea, as California battles drought

California is coming up on five straight years of severe drought.California is coming up on five straight years of severe drought.

In the nine months since the effective date of California Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandate of a 25-percent reduction in water use in urban areas of the state, reports from the 400-plus suppliers of that water indicate they’ve fallen just short of the goal.

From June 2015 through February of this year, cumulative water savings among the urban suppliers totaled 23.9 percent, according to California’s State Water Resources Control Board.

“Twenty-four percent savings shows enormous effort and a recognition that everyone’s effort matters,” said the board’s chairperson, Felicia Marcus. “Californians rose to the occasion, reducing irrigation, fixing leaks, taking shorter showers and saving our precious water resources in all sorts of ways.”

A news release from the Water Resources Control Board says the nine-month savings represent enough water to supply about 6 million Californians, or 15 percent of the state’s population, for a year.

The state board has scheduled a public workshop for April 20 to consider potential changes to the current emergency regulations.

While El Nino rains and snow have helped ease water shortages in the northern part of the state, Southern California’s water situation remains tenuous. And even among northern counties, the rain and snowpack were only about average despite El Nino’s influence.

“It was more of a moderate March than the miracle March we hoped for,” Marcus said, “but we’re grateful for every raindrop and every snowflake, and we are still hoping for more April showers.”

In early February, the board voted to extend its emergency regulation restricting water use through October. The State Water Board tracks water conservation for each of the state’s larger urban water suppliers.

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