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California Drought Emergency Extended Until Spring

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Despite recent snow and rain so heavy that parts of Los Angeles and San Diego were flooded, California water regulators voted to extend drought emergency conservation measures through the spring.

Why is the state still in a drought emergency even though parts of it saw heavy rain in January? One reason is that Governor Jerry Brown set a goal for the state to use 25 percent less water than in past years, but it hasn’t met that goal, ABC News reports. In fact, it missed that target for the third straight month.

But really, it's also all about the snowpacks.

On April 1, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides a third of California’s water supply, is usually at its deepest. It then melts to feed rivers, streams and reservoirs. The depth of the snowpack at that time will determine if water supply conditions are improving after nearly four years of drought, and whether California’s drought emergency can be lifted.

On the plus side, this week the water content of the snowpack measured 130 percent of its historical average for this time of year. "It's certainly a very encouraging start to the winter," Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, told ABC News.

Related: The 10 Driest Places on Earth

With the drought emergency extended, California residents are being asked to continue their efforts to reduce water use by 20 percent. But this is a good reminder for all of us about the importance of conserving water. Here are nine tips on how to do it from the office of California Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo.

  1. Wash only full loads in your washing machine. The same goes for the dishwasher.
  2. Install low-flow shower heads and an aerator on your kitchen faucet to reduce flow.
  3. If you have to hand-wash dishes, follow this method to do it.
  4. Take five-minute showers instead of longer ones. (There are health benefits for doing this, too.)
  5. Water your lawn in the early morning or late evening when temperature is cooler.
  6. If you use sprinklers, make sure they’re only hitting your lawn and not a sidewalk or street.
  7. Use mulch around trees or plants to keep the soil cool and reduce evaporation.
  8. Clear patios, driveways and sidewalks with a broom rather than a hose.
  9. When you wash your car, use a bucket of water and sponge. If you use a hose, make sure it has a self-closing nozzle.

Related: 6 Ways Climate Change May Affect Your Health

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