On April 7, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed an executive order rescinding the declaration of a state of emergency concerning the drought. The order was effective in all California counties except Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Tuolumne, where emergency drinking water projects are continuing to address diminished groundwater supplies. The order also leaves in place the provisions of the state’s report entitled “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life,” which was adopted in the wake of the drought. The provisions of that report provide a “conservation framework” that requires, for example, greater consistency in drought planning between urban water management plans, water shortage contingency plans, and agricultural water management plans; incentives for water conservation plans; encouraging better use of water by, for example, eliminating hosing of driveways and walkways, halting the irrigation of ornamental turf in public areas; and so on.
The order comes on the heels of two years of exceptional rainfall that has led to flooding in Northern California and greater than normal rainfall in Southern California. California’s drought killed an estimated 100 million trees in the state, reduced farm production in some regions, harmed wildlife and disrupted water supplies in some communities. The dead trees in turn will expose the state to fire danger for years to come, and the harm to the state’s agricultural economy has resulted in shifting demographics and community disruption.