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California Loosens Water Cutbacks In Drought

The Almaden Reservoir is filled after series of storms in San Jose, March 14, 2016.
Associated Press
The Almaden Reservoir is filled after series of storms in San Jose, March 14, 2016.

California will deliver more water this year than it has for each of the last three, as spring storms have nearly filled the state's major reservoirs, officials said Thursday.

Water districts serving nearly a million acres of farmland and 40 million residents will receive 60 percent of the water they requested, the state Department of Water Resources announced.


March storms soaked Northern California after a mostly dry February, said officials, urging residents to continue conserving because the state remains in drought, and it remains unclear what next winter will bring.

"Conservation is the surest and easiest way to stretch supplies," Mark Cowin, director of the state Department of Water Resources, said in a statement. "We all need to make the sparing, wise use of water a daily habit."

This is California's fifth consecutive drought year and the fourth such increase in recent months of the allocation, which started in December at 10 percent. In 2014, the agency provided clients as little as 5 percent of what they requested for the year.

Northern California this winter received significantly more wet weather than the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, where reservoirs remain low. Officials say it will take several years for California to recover from the dry spell.

Residents statewide for now remain under orders to use at least 20 percent less water than they did before the drought.