Governor Newsom Eases Drought Restrictions by ACWA Staff Mar 24, 2023 Water News YOLO COUNTY – Gov. Gavin Newsom today dropped some drought emergency provisions that are no longer necessary due to current water conditions, while maintaining other measures that support regions and communities still facing water supply challenges, and that continue achieving long-term water resilience. During a Friday morning news conference at the Dunnigan Groundwater Recharge Project, Newsom cited climate-driven weather whiplash behind action to boost water supplies through groundwater recharge, stormwater capture, reservoir storage, and more. The actions were enacted through an Executive Order, which reduced provisions from a series of four elevated drought proclamations from 81 to 33. More information is available in a news release. Today’s action also came as the state announced increased water deliveries to contractors relying on the State Water Project, who serve 29 public water agencies that, in turn, serve 27 million Californians. The state is now expecting to deliver 75% of contracted water supplies – up from 35% announced in February, and the highest since 2017. “ACWA appreciates the governor’s responsiveness to current conditions, which demonstrates the nimble leadership California needs as we continue adapting to more intense swings between climatic extremes,” stated ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton in a news release distributed today. “His Executive Order lifts certain drought restrictions within his drought proclamations from 2021 and recognizes the value of local water management, which reflects unique conditions affecting water supply in each region of our state. “ACWA also appreciates the governor’s continued emphasis on streamlining the regulatory approval process for critical water infrastructure projects and his commitment to making groundwater recharge a priority, which supports the hard work of many ACWA member agencies toward attaining groundwater sustainability.” Specifically, the order: Ends the voluntary 15% water conservation target, while continuing to encourage that Californians make conservation a way of life; Ends the requirement that local water agencies implement Level 2 of their Drought Contingency Plans; Maintains the ban on watering ornamental grass on commercial properties; Preserves all current emergency orders focused on groundwater supply, where the effects of the multi-year drought continue to be devastating; Maintains orders focused on specific watersheds that have not benefited as much from recent rains, including the Klamath River and Colorado River basins, which both remain in drought; Retains a state of emergency for all 58 counties to allow for drought response and recovery efforts to continue. Jennifer Pierre, General Manager of the State Water Contractors, issued the following statement in response to the increase in SWP allocations. “We are pleased that the recent storms have provided an opportunity for the state to increase its much-needed water supplies after three very dry years,” Pierre stated in a news release. “California’s climate whiplash shows how critical it is to make investments in infrastructure to ensure that when we have these sporadic periods of snow and rain, we are well-positioned to move and store it for the inevitable future dry periods.” Newsom also highlighted groundwater recharge during the news conference, saying that California is working to expand groundwater recharge by at least 500,000 acre-feet in potential capacity as part of our water supply strategy. In ending the 15% voluntary conservation goal, Newson said that Californians had conserved 600,000 acre-feet water since the voluntary goal went into effect during 2021.