CSAC Bulletin Article

The Drought is Officially Over – What’s Next?

April 13, 2017

With the issuance of Executive Order B-40-17, Governor Brown officially declared the multi-year drought at an end. The EO notes that while the snowpack is 164 percent of season average and reservoirs are in good shape, the “changing climate requires California to continue to adopt and adhere to permanent changes to use water more wisely and to prepare for more frequent and persistent periods of limited water supply.” In addition to the general theme of conservation, drought response will continue in Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Tuolumne Counties.

The orders and provisions contained in Executive Order B-37-16, Making California Conservation a Way of Life, remain in effect, with some important modifications:

  • The State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) shall continue development of permanent prohibitions on wasteful water use and reporting requirements for urban water agencies.
  • The Water Board will rescind water supply stress tests or mandatory conservation standards for urban water agencies.
  • The Department of Water Resources (DWR) will continue to work with the Water Board to develop standards for urban water suppliers to set efficiency standards and targets. DWR will provide technical assistance and some data to help.
  • The Water Board and DWR will continue to direct actions to minimize water system leaks and waste.
  • The Water Board and DWR will continue to direct actions to urban and agricultural water suppliers to accelerate data collection, improve water system management and prioritize capital projects to reduce water waste. The CPUC is requested to work with investor-owned water utilities to accelerate work to minimize leaks.
  • The Water Board will work with state agencies and water suppliers to identify mechanisms to encourage and facilitate the adoption of rate structures and other pricing mechanisms to promote water conservation.
  • All state agencies shall continue response activities that may be needed to manage the lingering drought impacts to people and wildlife. State agencies will increase efforts to build drought resiliency for the future.

As the EO terminating the drought was released, the Administration also released budget trailer bill language associated with making water conservation a way of life. The next few months leading up to the state budget deadline in mid-June will be key as the state exits the drought and prepares for the next phase of water conservation.

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