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California Extends Water Conservation Order As It Readies For Another Year Of Drought

Gov. Jerry Brown said the drought conditions pose an "extreme peril to the safety of persons and property continue to exist in California."

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California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday extended an executive order that requires residents to conserve water as the state prepares for another year of drought.

In April, Brown enacted mandatory water use restrictions for the first time in the state’s history to reduce water use by 25% by early 2016.

But the continuing drought conditions pose an "extreme peril to the safety of persons and property," said Brown in the latest order.

"To a certain extent it's just good housekeeping," Felicia Marcus, the chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, told BuzzFeed News on Sunday. "It gave us certain direction and some flexibility to do what we need to do in the face of the drought and the coming storms and floods."

California faces the complex situation of preparing for the drought and flooding at same time, said Marcus.

The order will help the state take advantage of rain from potential storms from an El Niño weather pattern to refresh underground water basins, she said.

Brown's order also invests $5 million to find permanent reliable drinking water for Californians using a well-drinking system and speeds up permits to rebuild power plants that were damaged by the fires.

"There is sensible stuff we need to do to deal with the possibility of a continual drought and flooding," said Marcus. "It allows us to take advantage of the flooding as opposed to just being beat by it."

The new order will extend through October 2016 if the drought conditions persist through January.

The drought has sparked several wildfires spanning thousands of acres across the state thate have pushed the U.S. Forest Service's budget to a "tipping point," according to an April report.

It had previously used only 16% of its budget to fight wildfires, but now spends half its money battling such blazes.

The wildfires have damaged critical infrastructure and led to mudslides as rain water runs over recently scarred areas.

Brown first called a state of emergency in January 2014 as the drought worsened in the state. He has since announced four executive orders to minimize water use and enforce the restrictions using fines.

The State Water Resources Control Board will hold a public meeting on December 7 to discuss the emergency water conservation rules for the next year.

Leticia Miranda is a consumer affairs reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Leticia Miranda at leticia.miranda@buzzfeed.com.

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