Drought’s not over for everybody

Most Californians are – finally – out of the drought, but the record-setting rains have not washed away emergency conditions for all residents.
Jerry Brown’s April 7 executive order lifted the drought state of emergency for 54 of California’s 58 counties.
“This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner.” — Jerry Brown By keeping those areas under drought rules, authorities can bypass lengthy contract requirements and quickly provide assistance for areas facing drinking water shortages, said Max Gomberg, the climate and conservation manager for the State Water Resources Control Board, which enforces water regulations.
“We still got communities that are water short, but the (drought state of emergency) allows us to complete projects that are already under way,” Gomberg said.
Gomberg said Central Valley agricultural wells were dug so deep during the drought that shallower domestic wells in nearby rural communities went dry.
Though Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties also contain some of California’s largest agricultural areas, Gomberg said the executive order will have virtually no impact on the areas’ farmers.
Those served by the federal Central Valley Project received welcome news when The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation a full, 100 percent water allocation for 2017.
Gayle Holman, a spokeswoman for Westlands Water District, said the increase will slow growers from pumping the Central Valley’s groundwater supply.
She noted that “Making Conservation a California Way of Life,” another Brown-signed executive order that aims to build long-term drought resistance throughout California, should also protect rural areas from future dry conditions.
Part of the order directs the state Department of Water Resources must work with counties to develop better drought planning for small rural areas, a requirement previously held only for larger water suppliers that had over 3,000 connections.

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