California Drought Over As Snowpack Nears Record Levels

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Fresh snow in the Sierra (CBS)

Fresh snow in the Sierra (CBS)

SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) – Gov. Jerry Brown has declared an official end to California’s drought as state water officials reported one of the wettest years of snow buildup in the Sierra Nevada.

Brown ended the state of emergency declared by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in February 2009 after three relatively dry winters. Schwarzenegger had declared a statewide drought in June 2008.

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The announcement came after the Department of Water Resources reported Wednesday that the water content in the statewide snowpack is 165 percent of average for this time of year. The snowpack also was slightly above average last year.

This year’s snowpack is 174 percent of normal in the north, 163 percent in the central Sierra and 158 percent in the southern part of the range. Sierra snow provides a third of California’s water.

KCBS’ Betsy Gebhart Reports:

But the end of the drought is not necessarily affecting long-term water planning in Santa Clara Valley.

Santa Clara Valley Water District spokesman Marty Grimes said they plan on sticking with a 10 percent voluntary water cutback recommendation.

“Rather than looking at this year and the fact that we have more water than we can even store in our reservoirs, we really want to look at the long term,” said Grimes.

He said conservation will have to be a way of life in California from now on. The Santa Clara Valley Water District also offers several programs and financial incentives for installing water-saving appliances and planning drought-resistant landscapes.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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