California's Drought Restrictions Will Be Permanent Because the Drought Probably Will Be, Too

Illustration for article titled California's Drought Restrictions Will Be Permanent Because the Drought Probably Will Be, Too

It feels like just yesterday that California Governor Jerry Brown issued mandatory water conservation measures for a state suffering through its fourth year of exceptional drought. How young, how naive we were back then in April 2015, to think this would be a temporary thing. Today, Brown made the water restrictions permanent.


An executive order was signed today that keeps current conservation efforts in motion—like monthly reporting from local agencies and stiff punishment for water wasters—but also begins to lay the groundwork for more drastic emergency water restrictions that would go into effect in 2017. In a statement, Brown said what most Californians have come to grips with already—this is our new reality:

“Californians stepped up during this drought and saved more water than ever before. But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence and water conservation must be a part of our everyday life.”

While most of the state didn’t see much drought relief thanks to the El Niño no-show, residential water use was reduced by 23.9 percent from the previous year. That was just short of the 25 percent goal outlined by the original water restrictions. Rainfall managed to fill some reservoirs to above-average depths, but snowpack was still short of historical averages.

A few weeks ago a group of wealthy homeowners in Northern California tried to convince their local water departments that the drought was over and that they should be able to have their restrictions lifted. Because, you know, it rained at their houses.

Um, no. Say goodbye to your lawns, dudes. For good.



Alissa is the former urbanism editor at Gizmodo.


This is what happens when you have almost 40m people in a state that has the water capacity to support 25m. During the 1960's CA was building 10+ resevoirs per year. Now its a 10th that.