Water Board Takes Action to Extend Conservation
February 9, 2017
California’s historic drought is being matched up against a historic year of precipitation. On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board met to discuss what that means for water conservation requirements put in place as required by executive orders (B-29-15, B-36-15, and B-37-16) and set to expire at the end of this month. In the end, the Board voted to extend the water conservation requirements.
This action supports the Water Board staff recommendation to extend the regulations requiring water conservation. The topic of the drought is complicated due to the uneven nature of where precipitation has occurred, the uncertainty of future precipitation levels, and what the state’s hydrologic conditions will look like when the rainy season subsides. Some stakeholders think it’s time to end the conservation requirements since the state has experienced so much precipitation this year.
While we’re all aware of the significant precipitation this year, the science is more complex. The latest snow survey from the Department of Water Resources illustrates that the statewide snowpack is currently at 173 percent of the average water equivalent for this time of year, and state officials note that we have “a very robust snowpack on the ground right now.” Rainfall totals are at 204 percent of average to date in the San Joaquin basin, and at 207 percent in the Tulare basin. The state’s big reservoirs are also clocking in with hefty numbers – Shasta Lake is at 114 percent of the historical average to date and Lake Oroville is at 121 percent. However, the water is not evenly distributed: Lake Cachuma reservoir is at 12 percent of capacity, and groundwater replenishment issues persist. Readers may be interested in additional data from the Department of Water Resources about current water conditions.
CSAC submitted comments on the latest proposal related to Executive Order B-37-16, Making Water Conservation a California Way of life. In these comments, CSAC emphasized the importance of developing reasonable and effective solutions to improving water conservation and drought resiliency. CSAC will continue to be actively engaged on this issue.