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California governor declares drought over

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Although future water woes could still happen

Green grass and blue waters at a California reservoir.
Whale Rock Reservoir in San Luis Obsipo County in 2011. SLO reservoirs are presently at 109 percent of their historic average.
Docent Joyce

Heavy rains and some particularly violent storms since 2015 have led Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare an end to the state’s years-long drought; however, he cautioned that Californians must nevertheless change their wasteful water habits.

In a statement released Friday, Brown said, “This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner. Conservation must remain a way of life."

Brown also issued an executive order lifting some water sanctions but retaining others:

Executive Order B-40-17 lifts the drought emergency in all California counties except Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne, where emergency drinking water projects will continue to help address diminished groundwater supplies. Today's order also rescinds two emergency proclamations from January and April 2014 and four drought-related executive orders issued in 2014 and 2015.

Prohibitions like the ban on “watering during or after rainfall, hosing off sidewalks and irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians” will remain.

The governor’s office notes that the damage to the state’s agricultural system and natural landscape may linger for decades, noting:

“The drought that spanned water years 2012 through 2016 included the driest four-year statewide precipitation on record (2012-2015), [...] marked by extraordinary heat: 2014, 2015 and 2016 were California's first, second and third warmest year in terms of statewide average temperatures.”

The United States Drought Monitor released a new state drought map Tuesday showing no signs of drought over 76 percent of the state, and only “abnormal dryness” over 24.3 percent, all of it in the state’s southern half.

One year ago, more than 74 percent of the state was in at least “severe drought,” with more than 31 percent gripped by “exceptional drought,” the most dire of the five drought classifications. In year prior, “exceptional drought” hit most of the state, including the Bay Area.

Conditions in October of 2014.
Drought Monitor
And this week.