Liquid News

Drought Eases Statewide and Locally

On February 13, the IRWD Board of Directors voted to rescind the District’s Water Shortage Level One declaration.  In doing so, the Board authorized IRWD staff to shift its strategy for messaging and outreach from one that utilizes drought-based or mandatory measures to one that focuses on long-term water efficiency. 

A Water Shortage Level One is considered a low-level shortage with the possibility of water supply reductions of up to 10%. IRWD had been operating at a Level One shortage since July 2016. Between July 2015 and July 2016, the District was at a Water Shortage Level Two, which entailed more aggressive outreach and a mix of mandatory and voluntary water use restrictions. 

The decision to declare an end to the level one shortage was based on improving statewide hydrological conditions and the ongoing reliability of IRWD’s drinking water supply. It has been determined that IRWD is not at risk of experiencing any water shortages in the coming years, so there isn’t a need to have an active water shortage condition in the District. 

Going forward, the District will continue to work with all of its different customer types to seek out and implement long-term water efficient behaviors and practices. By focusing on long-term solutions, the District will avoid having to re-implement emergency water use restrictions for several years, even if drought conditions return sooner than later. 

At the statewide level, winter storms have provided relief from a multi-year drought in the way of record snow and rainfall. On April 7, Governor Brown rescinded California's Emergency Drought Declaration, however some statewide water restrictions will remain in place permanently. 

A common question that has come up lately is whether or not the drought is over. Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about the most recent drought and our region's long-term water supply sustainability:  

  • Winter storms have made a considerable dent in the drought
  • Critical statewide water reservoirs are being replenished
  • Record levels of snowpack and rainfall will help sustain healthy surface reservoir and groundwater aquifer levels during the remainder of the year
  • IRWD’s drinking water supply has been deemed completely reliable and no water shortage conditions are expected locally for at least the next three years, regardless of whether or not drought returns to California
  • Despite a reliable  water supply, it’s important that IRWD customers continue to take a long-term approach to water use efficiency by adopting behaviors and practices that lead to sustained water conservation
  • IRWD will continue to invest in a diverse water supply portfolio, such as acquiring water banking facilities and expanding its recycled water infrastructure, to ensure that local water supply reliability improves each and every year


For more information about IRWD’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan and the Board’s vote to rescind the Water Shortage Level One declaration, please view the following documents: 

For more information on the California drought and current statewide emergency drought regulation, please visit the State Water Board Drought Portal.

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