Though the Sierra Nevada snowpack is at more than 170% of average, and around half the state is reportedly free of drought, the State Water Resources Control Board voted last week to continue its existing regulations on water conservation.
The rules include, among many, things like cutting back on watering landscapes or washing cars on sidewalks.
In a release, the water board called such regulations “reasonable.”
“These regulations have helped Californians rise to the occasion and show what they can do with conservation,” said Felicia Marcus, the board’s chairwoman. “We are beyond happy that water conditions continue to improve this year, but the rainy season isn’t over yet and some areas of the state continue to suffer significant drought impacts.”
The state used 20.6% less water last December as compared to December of 2013, and cumulative savings from June 2015 to December 2016 remains at 22.5%, according to the release.
Some farmers believed the state’s decision was inevitable, despite the impacts they said it will have on groundwater basins.
Anja Raudabaugh, CEO of Western United Dairymen, said there’s yet to be a green light on more water allocations by the Bureau of Reclamation after a 15% release to Central Valley farmers last year.
“Most farmers are suspicious of the fact that we’re basically going to be kept in a constant state of crisis,” Raudabaugh said. “It’s been an endless era of drought declarations ... obviously we’re ecstatic about the level of rain and everything else, but if we don’t see increased water releases, we’ll mostly have to turn to groundwater and other sources when there’s an ample supply of surface water.”