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The Drought is Over! Say Some California Water Officials

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Despite the no-show El Niño in SoCal, some officials say California doesn't need water restrictions anymore

In the midst of an unwelcome hot snap and on the tail end of a no-show El Niño, SoCal is basically clamping down for a hot, dry summer. But not everyone had a disappointing winter, and now some of those folks are grumping about saving water. The Associated Press reports that some water officials feel that this past winter sufficiently supplied the entire state with snow and water, in effect easing the five years of drought the state's faced, and that it's time to chill out on the water-saving.

One of these officials, a project manager for the Association of California Water Agencies, says in a letter to state regulators that the "heroic" conservation efforts of Californians should be rewarded, and that that reward should be fully throwing out the current water cutback measures. "It is time to end the State Water Board's mandatory water-use restrictions statewide," he writes.

Um, statewide?

Not everyone's in a great place to do that, the Drought Monitor would indicate, though it's true that many northern parts of the state did get heartily drenched over the winter. And, probably in light of that, state water regulators are considering adjusting future water conservation goals according to regional water supplies and drought levels.

But in another letter from multiple environmental organizations, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council brings another perspective: the long one. Warning that conservation should basically be the new normal, she notes that with no assurances that another wet winter will be in store next year, it makes sense to adjust but not abandon the water restrictions in place. "California's water challenges are immense and extend far beyond the current drought," Quinn writes.

All this comes as the State Water Resources Control Board prepares to have a workshop to "chart the future of urban water conservation measures tomorrow." It's possible that the board could decide to make changes to the rules, and that those changes could go into effect as soon as next month.