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California is experiencing the worst drought in its history, and the effects are being felt nationwide. Thus water issues have taken center stage in much of our reporting and the nation's.As the New York Times says, "Water has long been a precious resource in California, the subject of battles pitting farmer against city-dweller and northern communities against southern ones; books and movies have been made about its scarcity and plunder. Water is central to the state’s identity and economy, and a symbol of how wealth and ingenuity have tamed nature ..."As we continue through a fourth year of extreme drought conditions, you'll find all of our reporting on the related issues (and that of NPR and other member stations) in this centralized place.

California's Water Conservation Down During Historic Drought

Scott Denny

Water conservation in California has dropped after regulators lifted mandatory restrictions.

The statewide conservation rate in August was just under 18 percent, raising concerns that water agencies have abandoned their focus on conservation during the drought. Last year, Californians cut water use by 27 percent in August.

The State Water Resources Control Board says a return to mandatory cutbacks may be necessary next year.

“This is definitely a factor," says Max Gomberg, climate and conservation manager for the State Water Resources Control Board. "We have to look both at where we’re at in terms of our water supply picture, in terms of rainfall and snowpack accumulation through January when we’ll be coming back to the board for extending these emergency regulations.”

Under new regulations, water suppliers have to prove that they have enough water to last through three years of drought. Officials say more than 80 percent of water agencies have passed that test.

This story was produced by Capital Public Radio.