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California governor: Drought over, conservation must go on

Governor Jerry Brown has officially declared the drought over in all but four California counties.

The state's latest water conservation plan is a necessary next step to move the state toward a more sustainable water future, but it has at least one glaring flaw-it fails to include real changes that would conserve more water in agriculture, California's largest water user.

Brown also said the need for conservation continued. The governor lifted four drought-related executive orders from 2014 and 2015 and rescinded two emergency proclamations from 2014 in all 58 counties that required 25 percent savings, with the exception of Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Tuolumne.

Water is life for California's $47 billion farming industry, which grows almost half the nation's fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Stay with KCRA for updates.

It wasn't that long ago that many wondered whether California's drought would ever end.

New regulations making water-conservation measures permanent are now being created by the state water board and the state Legislature, said Max Gomberg, the water board's conservation and climate change manager. "Drought shaming" snoops outed homes and businesses in places such as Beverly Hills that let their sprinklers run too long.

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Requiring urban water suppliers to prepare water shortage contingency plans, including a drought risk assessment every five years.

Despite the drought's impact on water supplies, farm income has surprisingly grown over the past several years. "Efficiency is the cheapest and smartest way to extend our water resources".

"The new executive order keeps in place monthly water reporting from local agencies and prohibition of excess water waste", he said.

Although the severely dry conditions that afflicted much of the state starting in the winter of 2011-12 are gone, damage from the drought will linger for years in many areas.

In addition to forcing cutbacks in agricultural production, the drought killed some 100 million trees, harmed wild animals and affected drinking supplies for some rural communities.

Californians also responded to the drought with tremendous levels of water conservation, including a almost 25 percent average reduction in urban water use across the state. But increased precipitation this year and substantial snow pack helped bring California back from the drought.

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