Despite Heavy Rains, California Water Restrictions Remain in Place

Lake Shasta Water ReservoirDrought-busting levels of rain and snow have put pressure to lift emergency restrictions on usage, but California regulators declined to ease up on the longstanding curbs.

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“Amid the ongoing succession of storms, water managers up and down the state are urging regulators in Sacramento to permanently cancel historic, emergency drought rules that have been in place for 18 months,” U-T San Diego reported late last month. “It’s an escalation of their ongoing opposition to these restrictions, which already have been eased considerably since homeowners and businesses were first forced to cut consumption by a statewide average of 25 percent. California doesn’t have an official definition for statewide drought, leaving it up to the governor’s discretion on when to announce an end to that designation.”

Swift, uneven progress

But in a new report, the State Water Resources Control Board insisted that the drought’s persistent impact had to be mitigated further before any changes could be considered. “Some reservoirs remain critically low and groundwater storage remains depleted in many areas due to the continued impact of prolonged drought,” they concluded, according to the Sacramento Bee. “Precipitation cannot be counted on to continue, and snowpack levels, while above average for the current time of year, are subject to rapid reductions as seen in 2016 and before.” While the extraordinary rules imposed to conserve water were on track to expire at the end of this month, the board planned to extend them 270 days into the future.

The caution struck a contrast to the swiftness of California’s transformation from dry to wet. “According to the U.S. drought monitor website,” HotAir noted, “there are no areas of exceptional drought left in the state.” Updated data, the site observed, “indicates that one year ago 64 percent of the state was considered to be under either extreme or exceptional drought conditions, the two highest categories. Now, largely thanks to the storms over the past month, that figure has dropped to 2 percent.”

Continued challenges

Water districts have now had to scramble to figure out how to store what could be excess water if the new trends continue. Although the pathway to new storage initiatives has been cleared and funded, the state’s bureaucratic process will add extra time. “In 2014, voters approved a $7.5 billion water bond, including $2.7 billion for storage projects, to provide funding to water projects and programs throughout the state,” KXTV recalled. “Since then, government agencies across the state have been developing the process for accepting proposals.” This month, the station added, “the Water Commission will consider bids on numerous water storage projects across the state.”

And milder drought conditions have persisted. “Overall, the monitor … showed 51 percent of California remains in some form of drought, but that’s down from just over 57 percent last week and compares with 81 percent three months ago,” CNBC reported. And in a twist adding an unexpected layer of politics to the fraught question of resource management in the most beleaguered parts of the state, some Central Valley water officials became the focus of a misspending scandal. “An irrigation district in Central California’s prime farming region gave its employees free housing, interest-free loans and credit cards that the workers used to buy tickets for concerts and professional sports games, possibly breaking the law,” said state officials according to NBC Bay Area. “Employees at Panoche Water District based in Firebaugh used the credit cards to buy season tickets to Raiders and Oakland A’s games and attend a Katy Perry concert, officials said.”

The long view

Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown has kept a focus on what regulatory framework will persist even after all drought conditions have been adequately mitigated. “Brown has asked the state agency to design new conservation rules for water districts that will stay in place regardless of whether California is in drought,” according to U-T San Diego. “In the long run, the governor and state regulators are moving forward with their plan to establish permanent usage budgets tailored to each water district, as well as a suite of other regulations governing water consumption. The new rules are expected to include caps for both indoor use and outdoor water use, taking into consideration differences in weather patterns and other factors from one geographic region to another.”


  1. “…California doesn’t have an official definition for statewide drought, leaving it up to the governor’s discretion on when to announce an end to that designation…”

    And once a proclamation has descended down upon the State from the Moonbeam-upon-High, it shall never be contradicted, nor changed.
    Infallibility doesn’t just exist in Vatican City, nor Tehran – it is the aura that surrounds our Exalted Dear Leader – PBUH!

  2. In the Liberals California all you have to do is follow the money. Find out how Moonbeams cartel is benefiting and you will know the answer why the drought is “not over”.

  3. There are two reasons the drought is not over. Southern cal in it normal condition is a desert. The only way this are supports this many people is because water is brought in either from the north or from the Colorado river. The rest of our water comes from ground water and it takes more than one year of heavy rain to refill the ground water. The only way the ground water gets replaced is giving the water time to soak in and for that you need dams and reservoirs. Something which the environmentalists have not allowed to be built for 20 years

  4. Power is the drug of the elected ruling class. They cannot let go, but they are so damn stupid they do not use it well. It would be a simple matter to put the water on fields with injection holes drilled to the acquifer level, 100 to 300 feet, and restore it, but that would solve the problem and reduce our need for them. It is just that simple.

    Google “Two Minute Conservative” for more.

    • Adrian, I am far from any kind of expert on this subject, but it is my understanding that the purity of the water in the aquifer is dependent upon a leaching process of the soil. In other words, the soil above it acts as a purification filter as it passes through the soil. Somebody correct me if I am wrong!

  5. DR Richard Muccillo says

    Fake drought–pecker nose baldy needs to be tarred and feathered

  6. True Teacher says

    The last time we were in a drought that had ended with heavy rain and snow, the news came so late that a NEW drought had already been well under way.

  7. THE CAPTIVE says

    As long as all the taxes and drought taxes are in place then the spending in high places can continue. The scamming and skimming of the taxes can enrich the politicians – and we the tax payers can just keep paying them so that the ILLEGALS and TERRORISTS who love this state of corruption can continue their ongoing quest/ Thanks Gov.Brown!

  8. Adrien/Gordon, in the Reno, Nevada area they actually filter the water during the high levels and pump it down into the aquifer.

  9. Is anyone expecting common sense to apply in California? Logic left the building years ago.

  10. By where I live we have percolation ponds, now one would think that they’d be full to get as much water into the aquifer as possible….nope, basically BONE DRY. Oh and San Jose Water Co. is raising their %$#$% rates….AGAIN. They have a cute BS ad that compares the cost of a gallon of water to gasoline…which is artificially high in this #%$# state.

  11. “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” An official Democrat mantra.

  12. California could be under 10 ft of water, for a year, and the democrats would still claim a drought was happening. Democrats DO NOT KNOW HOW TO MANAGE ANYTHING.

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