Los Angeles (AFP) – California Governor Jerry Brown declared Friday the official end of the state’s drought that lasted more than five years.
Despite lifting the drought emergency in all but four counties, the governor kept in place water reporting requirements, as well as bans on practices like watering during or following rainfall and hosing off sidewalks.
“This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in a statement. “Conservation must remain a way of life.”
In the counties of Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne, emergency drinking water programs will stay in place.
In recent years, thousands of people in those areas — particularly in poor or Latino communities — saw their wells dry up and found themselves without running water. They instead relied entirely on deliveries of bottled water or on tanks for drinking and domestic use.
Heavy winter rains did not manage to completely replenish diminished resources.
“The drought reduced farm production in some regions, killed an estimated 100 million trees, harmed wildlife and disrupted drinking water supplies for many rural communities,” Brown’s statement read.
“The consequences of millions of dead trees and the diminished groundwater basins will continue to challenge areas of the state for years.”