Drought Outlook Brighter; Conservation Mandate Continues

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December snow and rain helped brighten California’s water outlook as the new year began, but the drought deficit is far from being filled.

Even while showing that the snowpack was 136% of average at the start of the year, Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, cautioned that it will be four or five months before the final tale of the state’s water year is told.

Meanwhile, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that Californians’ water use per capita continued to drop in November, but the statewide conservation rate decreased for the second month in a row.

Since emergency conservation regulations took effect in June 2015, Californians have reduced water use by 26.3%. The November savings rate, however, was 20.3%, down from 22.3% in October.

Average statewide water use continued to decline, from 87 gallons per person per day in October to 75 in November.

From June to November 2015, the state saved 1,009,387 acre-feet of water, closing in on the goal of saving 1.2 million acre-feet by February 2016.

In November 2015, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. directed the State Water Board to extend and revise the emergency water conservation regulations based on conditions through January. The Governor initially mandated a 25% water use reduction for cities and towns across the state on April 1, 2015.

The water board staff will be releasing an updated emergency regulation for public comment in mid-January and expects to consider extending the emergency regulation on February 2.

Frank Gehrke of the Department of Water Resources checks the snowpack depth near Echo Summit. The latest survey on December 30, 2015 showed the snowpack was 136% of normal for this time of year. Photo: California Department of Water Resources

Frank Gehrke of the Department of Water Resources checks the snowpack depth near Echo Summit. The latest survey on December 30, 2015 showed the snowpack was 136% of normal for this time of year. Photo: California Department of Water Resources

Staff Contact: Valerie Nera

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Valerie Nera
About Valerie Nera
Valerie Nera specializes in advocacy on agriculture, water, resources, crime, and banking and finance issues for the CalChamber. She joined the CalChamber staff in 1978 as a legislative assistant on agricultural issues. She also has lobbied air, environmental and privacy issues for the CalChamber. She earned a B.A. with honors from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific.