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Central Coast cities remain under water restrictions despite rainy start to 2023

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Posted at 5:57 PM, Feb 06, 2023

Much of California has been abiding by harsh water restrictions as the drought-stricken state struggles to retain enough water for its residents.

By one estimate, 24.5 trillion gallons of water fell across California in just over two weeks, but even that was not enough for a rollback of state and local water restrictions.

The tens of billions of gallons of water that soaked the Golden State in the first month of the year liberated the state from an exceptional level of drought. Now, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, California ranges from abnormally dry to severe.

For Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande, Lopez Lake is a main source of water. At the start of the year, it sat at its lowest point on record at 10,800-acre ft., but since the recent storms, it has risen from less than 20% capacity to 54%.

While there are no plans for an immediate end to the current protocol, there has been talk of easing some of the sanctions.

"We are going to present to the City Council a recommendation from staff to suspend those water penalties," said Bill Robeson, Assistant City Manager for the City of Arroyo Grande.

Currently, Arroyo Grande residents who do not meet the water-saving requirements are hit with a warning and then a fine. Arroyo Grande could make a decision to roll back water restriction fines as early as next Tuesday, February 14.

In Pismo Beach, Assistant City Manager Jorge Garcia says while things have improved, it's not quite enough for an end to restrictions.

"The recent storms did extend our water supply by about nine months to a year; however, we want to think long-term," Garcia said. "If the water supply changes to a point where we can responsibly make a recommendation to the city council to modify those restrictions, we absolutely will."

Most cities will wait to hear from Governor Gavin Newsom on the statewide drought declaration before making major changes to local ones.

The statewide drought emergency has been in effect since October 2021 when the governor added the last seven remaining counties to an existing list of areas already under a drought emergency. So far, no word from the state capitol if that will change any time soon.