Recent Storms Put Drought Emergency In Question

by Placerville Newswire / Mar 16, 2016 / comments

[BY SCOTT SMITH, ASSOCIATED PRESS. Image = Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, checks the depth of the snowpack as he conducts the third manual snow survey of the season, at Phillips Station near Echo Summit, Calif., Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)]

Recent storms that nearly filled Northern California's major reservoirs and created a deep snowpack in the Sierra Nevada have some water districts questioning whether a drought emergency still exists.

Meanwhile, regulators said Tuesday they will soon consider relaxing or even dropping strict conservation orders.

April signals the end to California's rainy season, and the State Water Resources Control Board will then take a look at the snowpack and reservoir levels to decide if it's time to change conservation mandates, said Felicia Marcus, the board's chair.

Until then, she urges residents to keep saving water.

"We want to make changes based on reality, rather than hope," Marcus said. "March is a key month for rainfall."

California is in its fifth year of drought, following the driest four-year period on record in the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown last year mandated that residents and businesses cut their water use by 25 percent compared to 2013. The state water board extended a similar order through much of this year.

Winter started with an above-average snowpack in parts of the Sierra Nevada. In February, however, skies cleared and temperatures soared during a dry spell followed by a downpour in early March that pushed key reservoirs in Northern California above their historical average.

Water flowed over spillway gates on the dam at Folsom Lake near Sacramento for the first time since 2012.

The brimming reservoir and packed ski slopes will inevitably lead residents to grow weary of drought restrictions, said...

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