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California Water Managers Want Emergency Drought Rules To End

Sprinklers water a lawn in California, July 15, 2014.

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Sprinklers water a lawn in California, July 15, 2014.

California Water Managers Want Emergency Drought Rules To End

GUEST:

Dana Friehauf, water resources manager, San Diego County Water Authority

Transcript

The San Diego County Water Authority and other water managers across California are calling for regulators to end emergency drought rules.

"It's clear here in San Diego County that we are not in a drought emergency. We have adequate supplies to meet demand this year and actually for the next three years if it's dry," said Dana Friehauf, the water authority's water resources manager.

Friehauf added that despite this, water users in the county still need to use water wisely, but we need to move to more long-term changes, such as upgrading to a low-water garden.

The State Water Resources Control Board is meeting on Feb. 7 to decide whether or not to end the drought emergency rules.

Matt O'Malley, executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper, said the organization would like to both see the emergency drought rules kept in place and see permanent water conservation regulations.

"You know if we're calling something a drought we have to look at what that means. Does it mean just precipitation? Does it mean actual management of water supplies? We're still depleting our groundwater (in an) unsustainable manner. We have less than adequate flows for environmental and fisheries habitat so we are in favor of keeping the current drought regulations," O'Malley said.

"We also want to see an acceleration of these permanent regulations as they move forward and I think it is more important now that those be put in place so that those people who are calling this just drought measures, that we actually have a longer term solution to the problem."

Gov. Jerry Brown has asked the State Water Resources Control Board to come up with more permanent water conservation rules.

Friehauf said the water authority agrees that there need to be water use targets for water districts, but that there needs to be a balance between water efficiency and having a diverse water portfolio that includes drought-resilient supplies.

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