EMWD says drought conditions over

T■ Staff Reports / The Valley Chronicle
he drought is over, says Eastern Municipal Water District’s (EMWD) Board of Directors, and on Wednesday the board urged Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) to cease the ongoing Drought State of Emergency and corresponding regulations.
EMWD Board of Directors approved by a 4-0 vote a resolution requesting an end to the statewide drought emergency status due to the response of customers and drastically improved statewide water supply and snowpack conditions.
“The time is right and we hope the Governor and the State Board will take the appropriate actions to let all Californians know that we are no longer in an emergency,” EMWD President David Slawson said in a news release. “EMWD customers – as well as those throughout our state – have heeded the call to action during this unprecedented time. It is now time for the state to do the same.” As part of its resolution, EMWD supported shifting the state’s focus away from emergency regulatory efforts and toward the creation of statewide, long-term water use efficiency practices that recognize local water supply efforts and regional factors that drive water use practices. At press time, the State Board was considering extending emergency regulations despite water supply conditions that indicate significantly above average rainfall and snowpack. EMWD Board of Directors on Feb. 15 will meet to discuss relaxing local water supply regulations. EMWD is currently in Stage 3c of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan, which suspends Tier 3 of its rate structure, meaning all water use over budget is charged at the highest price point. EMWD has been advocating for regulations that recognize such factors as local water supplies, weather and housing density. The State Board’s initial regulations failed to account for these water use drivers, instead using a blanket approach that unfairly penalized EMWD customers, says the company. Current regulations are based on a “stress test” approach, where water suppliers provided supply and demand information assuming three additional dry years. In June of 2016, EMWD and most water suppliers across the state certified that supplies were adequate to meet demand. Precipitation in the northern Sierra is 217 percent of average (as of January 23, 2017) and the state is on track to have its wettest year on record. EMWD has also invested in local supplies, including groundwater desalination and recycled water that has helped prepare it for drought conditions.
EMWD customers reduced usage by 18 percent from June 2015 through December 2016, when compared to 2013 figures.
“EMWD is committed to working on behalf of its customers and to serving as their collective voice with the state and its regulatory agencies,” Slawson said. “We sincerely appreciate the water use efficiency efforts our customers have taken during the drought and we will continue advocating for what is right on behalf of our customers.”

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