California Governor Jerry Brown, on Friday, lifted the several-year state of emergency issued at the start of what has become quite a historic drought. Thankfully, this was a very wet winter, full of massive rainstorms and record snowfall that has helped pull California out of one of its worst droughts in history.
This “state-of-emergency” started five long years ago, at a time when nearly the whole of the state experienced historically-low rainfall. But storms that fell between October and March plummeted these suffering regions with an average in excess of 30 inches of rain, across the Golden State. As a matter of fact, this was the second highest average measure of rainfall in any year since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began record keeping in 1895.
“In the late ’80s drought, we learned how much we can save indoors. In this drought we learned how much we can save outdoors,” explains Felicia Marcus, who is the chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, an agency which had the delicate task of enforcing Governor Brown’s initial order, from 2105, to cut urban water use by 25% statewide.
In September, the whole of the state—yes, 100 percent of California—was experiencing drought at some level. 21 percent of the state was experiencing what the NOAA had determined “exceptional drought.” Today, only about 23 percent of the state can be declared for suffering drought. Most importantly, no region of the state is considered to fall in the “exceptional drought” category.
Replacing the old drought proclamations, Brown issued a new order which will require that urban areas continue to report on water usage—to the California State Water Resources Control Board—to ensure levels are reasonable. In addition, California officials will continue working to contain a recent bark beetle outbreak which has suffered acres of trees across the state.
As such, the governor’s office will request that California legislators will act on brand new legislation in order to implement improved long-term water conservation measures. Fortunately, the drought has not had too much negative economic bearing.
Marcus goes on to say, “There’s a societal change in our attitudes — not just about watering use but what makes for a beautiful outdoor ornamental landscape that’s part and parcel of a major mind-set shift for many Californians,” Marcus said.