Enough rain has fallen this winter to keep Orange County from being in an emergency state of drought, according to the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC). Yesterday the MWDOC Board of Directors unanimously declared an end to emergency drought conditions, and they're urging the state to halt the emergency regulations that are currently in place, as well.
While the State Water Resources Control Board has mulled over extending special regulations under the drought state of emergency, 50 of California's 58 counties have been under "flood-emergency" as a result of all the rain and extensive snowfall in the mountains. According to MWDOC statistics, only a fraction of the state remains in drought— and Orange County isn't one of them.
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On Wednesday the State Water Resources Control Board is meeting to consider lifting the drought emergency regulations currently in place. Although the staff report recommends to maintain the drought procedures for another 270 days, the Sierra Nevada snowpack measured at 173 percent above normal, and the accumulated precipitation sitting at 198 percent above normal in Northern California have changed the circumstances in the Golden State quite a bit.
“It defies logic to tell the public – to force water agencies to tell the public – that we are still in a drought emergency,” says Wayne Osborne, President of the MWDOC Board of Directors. "Not only is it unnecessary, continuing the ‘emergency’ will destroy local leaders’ credibility with their stakeholders.”
Governor Jerry Brown announced that California was in a severe drought back in 2014 and put plans in place to reduce California's water use by 25 percent. According to a MWDOC press release, Orange County water agencies went above and beyond those expectations and exceeded the conservation mandates set by the State Water Resources Control Board.
Despite the county's excellent conservation, MWDOC is still urging Orange County residents to be water efficient and to conserve. In other words, the rain and snow haven't done enough. But it did save California from being in a complete water crisis. “We still remain in a drought," says Osborne, "but it is no longer an emergency."