Despite numerous water agencies requesting that the California State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) declare that the drought emergency has ended, the Water Board has decided to continue the state of emergency. Many California water agencies have argued that it was difficult to maintain their credibility with their customers regarding water availability when it is common knowledge that state reservoirs are, for the most part, brimful. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California is now considered to be out of the drought, with the exception of the Santa Barbara area. The logic of the Water Board was that the torrential rains that the state has been having, which in many areas has already delivered double what would be normal, could stop at any minute and signal the start of a new drought. The Water Board did not address the obvious facts that the state has full reservoirs and that there is snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains equivalent to the annual flow of the Colorado River. Despite the pleas of several water agencies to end the drought declaration, some water agencies saw it differently and asked the Water Board to continue the drought declaration.
The Water Board issued a requirement during the drought that urban areas pass a stress test. This would require urban water suppliers to demonstrate that they had sufficient supplies to meet needs during a three-year dry cycle. Most urban water agencies have satisfied the stress test. Despite torrential rains, which have been enough that an order was given to evacuate several towns in the Sacramento Valley, it will take several years of wet weather to restore depleted groundwater aquifers. These aquifers are restored through the natural percolation of water underground. Water can be removed faster than it can be replaced. The percolation into the ground occurs largely in the agricultural areas, but some urban areas in the Bay Area and Southern California have substantial aquifers. There is an active groundwater recharge program in these locales.