- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on the California drought (all times local):

9 p.m.

The State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday voted to extend the conservation mandate first set by Gov. Jerry Brown last year. It required communities statewide to save water by 25 percent.

The new regulation gives breaks to communities in especially hot and dry areas or those that have invested in desalination and water recycling.

Officials say that despite the El Nino, California’s major reservoirs remain critically low, requiring continued conservation.

Water districts say the breaks don’t go far enough.

Robert Roscoe of Sacramento Suburban Water District says his district invested millions in water storage, yet it isn’t rewarded now that the drought hit.

1 p.m.

Officials in drought-stricken California say the water content of the Sierra Nevada snowpack measures 130 percent of normal for this time of year.

Frank Gehrke of the Department of Water Resources said Tuesday it’s an encouraging start to the winter, but the drought’s not over.

He plunged a measuring pole into 76 inches of snow near Echo Summit in the Central Sierra, which includes Lake Tahoe.

Water managers say they’re focused on the April 1 snowpack, when it’s historically at its deepest.

They say the snowpack needs be 150 percent of normal, signaling an easing drought.

Gehrke says the depth marks an improvement over last April’s surveys, when he found the lowest snowfall on record.

An electronic measurement collected throughout the Sierra says the snowpack is at 114 percent.


10 a.m.

State officials say residents of drought-stricken California used 18 percent less water in December than the same period in 2013 and fell short of the 25 percent conservation mandate set by Gov. Jerry Brown.

However, the State Water Resources Control Board reported Tuesday at a meeting in Sacramento that California remains on course to beat its long-term conservation goal.

The agency says California has saved a combined 25.5 percent since the mandate was issued in June.

Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus says the combined results shows residents are using less water.

Brown ordered the statewide cutback during the state’s fourth year of drought. The emergency conservation order expires this month and the state water board was expected to decide Tuesday whether to extend it through October.

El Nino storms have drenched California this winter; water regulators, however, say reservoirs remain critically low.


2 a.m.

Following a welcomed parade of El Nino storms drenching drought-stricken California, state officials on Tuesday will decide whether to extend emergency conservation orders, and reveal how much water Californians saved in December.

The figures are expected to show that for a third straight month, Californians missed a mandate to use 25 percent less water. State regulators, however, say they are confident residents will meet the long-term goal that requires the savings over a nine-month period ending in February, a more important target.

Gov. Jerry Brown last year ordered Californians statewide use 25 percent less water.

The state water board will vote whether to extend the emergency drought orders through October.

Recent El Nino storms have drenched the state following its driest four-year period on record.

Officials say storms brought the snowpack to its highest level in five years; but the state’s major reservoirs remain critically low.

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