California Suspends Drought Water Restrictions

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California on Wednesday suspended the statewide 25 percent reduction in urban water use imposed last April. Local communities can now set their own conservation standards. After a relatively wet winter and a year of enormous savings in urban water the executive order issued in April last year by Gov. Jerry Brown, reducing their use of potable urban water by 24 percent compared with 2013 levels, was suspended, reported the New York Times.

The rules do not apply to agriculture, which is covered by different regulations. Mandates that have forced people, businesses and governments to curb watering of gardens and lawns, take shorter showers and flush toilets less frequently, are now eased. On the other hand the state made permanent prohibitions against washing down sidewalks and driveways, using a hose without a shut-off valve to wash cars and banning the use of water on road medians.

“We are still in a drought, but we are no longer in the-worst-snow-pack-in-500-years drought,” said Felicia Marcus, the head of the state water board.

Max Gomberg, the climate and conservation manager for the board, said it would review the order again in January and could return to mandatory statewide reductions if communities revert to water-wasting habits or if next year were dry again.

“If it’s looking like people have forgotten about the fact that there’s a drought, and gone back to wholesale water wasting, we’ll take that into consideration,” he said.

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