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April’s drought developments, so far

It’s been a hectic two weeks in California drought news. The state learned more about the extent of the drought, now in its fourth year, and handed out a flurry of proposals restricting how much water Californians can use. Here’s a roundup of April developments.

April 1: State officials report that Sierra Nevada snowpack stands at just 5 percent of normal depth, well below the previous April 1 low of 25 percent. Snowmelt typically accounts for at least a third of the state’s available fresh water.

April 1: Gov. Jerry Brown announces unprecedented mandatory cuts of 25 percent in urban water use. He tells the State Water Resources Control Board to hash out how much each water purveyor must cut.

April 3: Brown takes heat for not explicitly including agriculture in mandatory cutbacks. About 9 million acres of farmland in California are irrigated, representing about 80 percent of the water used by people. Brown and the farm industry counter that agriculture already has taken hits to its water supply.

April 7: The State Water Resources Control Board announces that Californians reduced their water consumption by less than 3 percent in February 2015 compared with February 2013. It was the worst conservation performance since the board started tracking urban water use last June.

April 7: The same day, the board releases a draft “framework” for mandatory water cutbacks, targeting communities that use the most water per capita for the largest cuts. Residents in Granite Bay, Carmichael, Folsom, Fair Oaks and several other Sacramento-area suburbs would be required to cut use by 35 percent compared with 2013, or potentially face penalties. Some coastal cities that use relatively little water per capita would be required to cut use by just 10 percent.

April 8: The California Energy Commission approves drought regulations mandating that faucets, toilets and urinals sold after Jan. 1 use much less water.

Next up: The water board will release an updated draft of urban water-use restrictions on Friday. It plans to adopt the new rules in early May.

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