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Placer Water Officials Call On California To Ease Drought Restrictions

PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) — As reservoirs fill and begin to release more water, one Northern California water agency says the drought is over and wants water restrictions lifted.

Officials with the Placer County Water Agency say if they don't use all the water up north, it's just going to flow into the rivers in Sacramento and end up back in the ocean. They're asking the state to let them make the call on how they use their water.

The American River is at its strongest in years, but after four years of California drought, is it a sign some parts of the state are out of the drought.

Two water agencies we spoke to have differing views.

Ross Branch with the Placer County agency says area rivers and reservoirs are at 100 percent or more of average.

"We have enough not only for today but for the future growth of the county," he said.

He's asking the state to lift emergency drought restrictions.

But the state isn't budging.

"While Northern California has been very fortunate, the Central Valley and Southern California haven't really seen the kind of rain—they don't have the kind of water storage that we do up here," said George Kostyrko with the State Water Resources Control Board.

Water officials will reconsider drought regulations in May at the end of the wet season.

"It's our belief that we are going to be modifications to the restrictions. I don't know if they're going to be lifted completely," he said.

California has saved more than 25 percent since the governor called for savings from 2013 rates.

People like Ed Barton of Auburn have either let their lawns go or switched to drought-resistant landscapes.

"Conservation is the key to the future," he said.

Ross says the savings cost the county in other ways.

"Our service area lost probably about $29 million in terms of landscape alone," he said.

Water managers say they're focused on the April 1 snowpack survey. After that, the state board plans to hold public workshops to consider how to move forward on drought regulations.

The workshop is planned for 1 p.m. on April 20 at 1001 I Street in the Coastal Hearing Room.

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