What Drought? Still-Parched California Lifts Water Limits
The power to conserve now shifts to the hands of local communities instead of the state
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2016 8:49 AM CDT
A homeowner walks though his front yard, left, unlandscaped to keep water use to a minimum, on Wednesday in Irvine, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(Newser) – It used to be you'd be heavily fined if you turned on your water too much or for an unapproved reason in parched California. Now many of those restrictions are about to be dismissed, with a reversal of the state mandate for a 25% drop in city water use, the New York Times reports. Instead, thanks to the hard work of everyday Californians and a precipitation-filled winter that partly restocked the area's reservoirs and mountain snowpacks, the State Water Resources Control Board is rolling back its rules on keeping tabs on how long people shower or water their lawns, allowing local communities to come up with their own conservation methods.

"We are still in a drought, but we are no longer in the-worst-snow-pack-in-500-years drought," says Felicia Marcus, the head of the SWRCB. By putting the conservation power back into the hands of each community as of June 1, those areas can come up with the best plan based on their particular area's water supply, which varies greatly from place to place. But a climate manager on the water board warns this is still just a trial run, with the National Drought Mitigation Center noting in the Sacramento Bee that 70% of the state is still in "severe," "extreme," or "exceptional" drought. The AP notes that certain bans, such as spraying down sidewalks with a hose, will permanently remain.