2016 Drought Watch


Urban Water Conservation

In May 2016, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted a modified emergency water conservation regulation that replaces state-mandated, specific conservation standards with a locally driven, “stress-test” approach.

Under the modified regulation, local water suppliers must conduct a rigorous assessment and certify they are drought-prepared in the event of another three dry years. 

While many water suppliers have determined they are indeed drought-prepared thanks to local investments in drought-resilient supplies and water-use efficiency, they continue to promote conservation and ongoing water-wise practices.

ACWA has compiled several examples of how local water suppliers are continuing the call for conservation this year. Download a PDF here (August 2016). 

The modified regulation is effective June 1, 2016  through January 2017. 

The State Water Board continues to require monthly compliance reporting, due on the 15th of each month. Information is available at the State Water Board Emergency Conservation Regulation Portal.

For more on the State Water Board's emergency regulation and ACWA's activities, please visit ACWA's Urban Water Conservation page here


Did El Niño End the Drought?

Last winter's highly-anticipated El Niño was not a statewide drought-buster. While storms boosted storage in some Northern California reservoirs, they sputtered out in the Southern part of the state. 

The uneven recovery and possibility of dry conditions in 2017 mean that the drought is not over yet.

Last year, ACWA prepared this award-winning infographic providing a high-level look at key drought recovery factors that water managers and other experts were watching for signs of improvement. As the drought continues, these factors will continue to be important indicators. 

Conservation a Priority

Water conservation remains a priority. With the new regulation adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board on May 18, in the coming weeks water agencies will be evaluating water supplies carefully and establishing supply-based conservation targets tailored to local conditions.

Save Our Water -- a partnership between ACWA and the California Department of Water Resources -- is expanding its 2016 outreach to consumers on the need for ongoing conservation and making permanent changes to save water. 

The program will be updated its online toolkit for water agencies and other partners with new materials and has partnered with the California Native Plant Society to promote its new interactive website to help Californians bring native plants back into their landscaping. 

Local Drought Response Gallery

In 2015, as local water agencies responded to a fourth year of historic drought, ACWA launched a new interactive gallery to showcase the plethora of local agency drought response activities by ACWA members statewide.

As the drought stretches into its fifth year in 2016, the Drought Response Gallery continues to highlight water conservation and efficiency projects and program actions in five categories.

Visit the Drought Response Gallery to see examples.

Drought Resources

Long-Term Conservation and Modified Emergency Regulations: Examples from Local Water Agencies - August 2016

ACWA's June 28 Special Webinar Briefing: Modifed Emergency Conservation Regulation and Outreach Strategies (Member Login Required)

ACWA's Drought Communications Member Toolkit - June 2016 (Member Login Required)

ACWA's Drought Response Member Toolkit - June 2015

2015 Drought - Four Years and Counting: Impacts and Actions - April 9

Save Our Water 

DWR Drought Portal

Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Drought Page

State Water Resources Control Board Drought Year Water Actions Page

Daily Reservoir Storage Summary

California Reservoir Conditions

California Weather Data

U.S. Drought Portal

Central Valley Project Water Supply Information

General information about California Water

How Water is Used is California

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