Drought Over? Some Say It Is, Others Say Not Quite Yet

With all the rain, snow, overflowing reservoirs and swollen rivers, it's easy to believe federal officials who say much of California is out of the years-long drought. But some are skeptical.

A federal agency on Thursday declared that 40 percent of the state is no longer in a drought. Claire Roth, of Moraga, said she will continue to conserve water.

For days, Roth has watched her newly installed drought resistant lawn get soaked.

"I’ve just been here watching the ground be more and more saturated in this storm," she said.

All the punishing rain across the Bay Area and recent dumping of snow in the Sierra have brought reservoir levels soaring statewide, some to the point of spilling over.

"The amount of water, the amount of precipitation that we have received is 196 percent of average," said Andrea Pook, of the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

But professor Alex LaGatta, of the environmental and earth science department at Saint Mary’s College, said the drought is far from over.

"I think it’s a dangerous and premature assessment," LaGatta said.

She said the key is what lies beneath the surface in California. Groundwater levels are still dangerously low.

"Until we can replenish these, which is going to take decades, we are not going to have a healthy robust water supply," she said.

That's why Roth will continue to pay the price to renovate her landscaping to conserve water.

"I haven’t added it up; I don’t want to add it up," Roth said of the cost. "I just know its going to be worth it."

The drought emergency issued in 2014 will remain in place until Gov. Jerry Brown lifts it.

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