SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Don’t count on El Niño to end California’s historic drought. That’s the warning from one of California’s top water officials.

Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, said El Niño could soak Los Angeles and miss Northern California altogether.

“Don’t count on El Niño,” said Marcus. “If we get an El Niño, worry about flooding and property damage, loss of life and all that.”

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)


Marcus worries Northern Californians will back off their record-setting conservation because they keep hearing El Niño is coming to the rescue.

“We’ll take the water if it comes,” said Marcus. “I just don’t want folks to think they don’t have to conserve because El Niño will save us, or to not understand that a strong El Niño has a downside.”

Marquez says conservation remains the key. Fortunately, Californians exceeded the state’s water-saving targets in June. Some customers cut their consumption by more than 40 percent. She predicts the July statistics will be even better “because people get it, and their water agencies are helping them.”

In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) The Enterprise Bridge passes over full water levels at a section of Lake Oroville on July 20, 2011 in Oroville, California.

In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) The Enterprise Bridge passes over full water levels at a section of Lake Oroville on July 20, 2011 in Oroville, California.


Still, Marquez is optimistic Californians will weather this drought whether El Niño delivers or not. People just need to keep conserving.

“This is not your garden variety drought — not your mother’s drought, not your grandmother’s drought,” warns Marcus. “This is not only the drought of the century, this could be the drought of many millennia.”

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