(KTXL) — During a visit to Yolo County on Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced changes to the state’s drought restrictions and water conservation plans after multiple winter storms over several months have soaked the state, but stopped short of lifting the state drought emergency.
Newsom said that in spite of the questions about if the drought is over, “it continues to be complicated.”
“It would be nice to have a governor say the drought is over,” Newsom said. “Unfortunately, the complication requires nuance.”
The governor, joined by local and state leaders, including the Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot, announced that the state drought emergency proclamation would not be lifted, but modified.
Lifted water conservation rules
With improvements in the state’s water reserves, Newsom announced that the statewide request of a 15% voluntary reduction in water use will be lifted.
However, local water agencies and governments, such as cities and counties, can put in place their own water use restrictions.
On the local level, water agencies and governments will be able to enact rules that limit sprinklers and outdoor irrigation.
Increased Delivery of Water Supplies
As the dams and reservoirs that make up California’s State Water Project continue to swell from continuous rainfall and snow runoff, the state is expecting to be able to provide 75% of the requested water supplies in 2023.
In January, state officials believed that only 35% of requested water supplies would be fulfilled.
These requests come from California’s 29 public water agencies that provide water for 750,000 acres of farmland and 27 million Californians.
Recharging Groundwater Resources
While the governor was positive in the recharging of California’s above-ground resources, he, like other speakers, voiced concern over the state’s need for more groundwater.
“It is incumbent upon us to continue to maintain our vigilance and maintain some provisions of the executive order to allow for fast-tracking a groundwater replenishment project,” Newsom said.
He added that the state is committed to the project, with “$8.6 billion, 142 specific actions and an updated plan with numeric goals on stormwater capture that relates to recycling and groundwater replenishment.”
California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross said that the state has a ground water Aquaphor capacity of 850 million acre-feet.
“Right now with all of our surface storage we have 50 million acre-feet capacity,” Ross said. “So you can see the challenge but the opportunity that is happening on this farm and also what we hope happens up and down the state of California.”