Water & Drought
By Dale Kasler
dkasler@sacbee.com
January 18, 2017 – 12:16 PM

With rivers roaring and more rain coming, California’s drought cops are wrestling with a complicated question: Should they keep patrolling the beat?

A chorus of urban water districts Wednesday urged the State Water Resources Control Board, California’s chief drought regulator, to allow the state’s emergency conservation rules to expire.

At a lengthy hearing in Sacramento, representatives of the water districts said the state board is losing credibility by insisting the drought still exists when residents can see how much conditions have eased.

“We have customers out there and they’re seeing what’s going on,” said Jack Hawks of the California Water Association, an alliance of local water districts. He said the Yolo Bypass west of Sacramento is so full, it “looks like Lake Michigan.”

Local officials said they’ve invested in storage and conservation programs and that they have strong water supplies. “The drought emergency is over,” said Deven Upadhyay of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Water board members, however, indicated that they plan to keep regulations in place, at least for a few more months. Despite the promising start to the winter, they said conditions could turn dry again.

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