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What’s Happening with the California Drought?

America’s denim industry has certainly been feeling the effects of California’s drought, leading brands to adapt by embracing ozone washing and conservation campaigns like Levi’s Water Less movement and collection. Though some organizations have been questioning whether the drought may finally be ending, Governor Jerry Brown is anticipating a dry future and called this week for permanent drought regulations.

Ellen Hanak, center director and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, explained that this latest drought began in 2012, with the ensuing three years the driest and hottest in California since record-keeping began in the late 1800s.

The situation began to ease up in the winter of 2016, when Northern California had a record-breaking El Niño, bringing rains that greatly alleviated the situation. This event led the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) to ask the State Water Resources Control Board to rescind the statewide emergency regulation.

The New York Times reported that Governor Brown, unpersuaded by this temporary relief, is instead instituting long-term bans on hosing down driveways and watering lawns after a rainstorm. In addition, urban water suppliers will be required to report water use to the state and develop plans for long droughts.

Hanak pointed out, however, that continued water saving measures are not necessarily a disadvantage to manufacturers, as saving water reduces production costs.

Hanak also spoke to the need for apparel companies to prepare for the weather to come, “In many respects, this drought is California’s dry run for a drier, warmer future. That means that industries that continue to find ways to reduce their water use will be better able to adapt to a changing climate.”