Despite winter rains, state continues water conservation rules

State board extended existing conservation rules
Posted at 5:12 PM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 21:24:55-05

SACRAMENTO - Despite heavy rains this winter, the State Water Resources Control Board decided Wednesday to extend existing water conservation regulations.

The regulations, designed to prohibit water wasting practices such as watering lawns 48 hours after rain, are needed since many other communities - especially in the Central Valley - are still facing severe drought conditions, the state said.

"These regulations have helped Californians rise to the occasion and show what they can do with conservation, while providing flexibility based on differing local water supply conditions across the state," Board Chair Felicia Marcus said. "As glorious as the first half of the season has been, we know that weather can change quickly, and vary depending on where you are, so it is most prudent to wait a bit longer until close of the rainy season to take stock of the statewide situation and decide what to do next."
The state has undergone more than five years of extreme drought conditions, which has resulted in significant impacts on communities and local agriculture.
The boards decision keeps in place measures of reporting water use by urban agencies, prohibitions against wasteful practices, hosing off sidewalks and driveways, and over-watering landscaping.
While January's rainfall lifted many areas in the state out of extreme drought conditions, the decision also extends prohibitions against homeowners associations taking action against homeowners' conservation efforts during a declared drought.
The rules were set to expire on Feb. 28.
Rules were also maintained for urban water suppliers, requiring them to demonstrate if they have enough water reserves for three more dry years. Under the extension, suppliers that didn't pass or take the test have the opportunity to update their analysis. 
The majority of suppliers passed the "stress test," according to the state said.
The board said the state saved 20.6 percent more in December 2016 compared to December 2013.
Mark Saunders is a KGTV digital producer. Follow him on Twitter at @10NewsSaunders.