Fox News Weather Center

Californians May Face Continued Water Restrictions Into Fall 2016 Despite Surpassing Initial Conservation Target

The wet season has started in California, but the state has yet to get a major rainstorm, leaving millions of Californians in an extreme drought.

With the drought likely to last into 2016, the governor of California is prepared to extend the hefty water restrictions, which went into effect in June of 2015, into the fall of 2016.

"If drought conditions persist through January 2016, the Water Board shall extend until Oct. 31, 2016, restrictions to achieve a statewide reduction in urban potable water usage," Gov. Edmund Brown said in an executive order.

Brown issued the emergency regulations earlier this year, the first of its kind, calling for a 25 percent reduction in urban water usage.

Since the initial regulations went into effect, Californians have reduced their water use by over 27 percent, slightly more than the 25 percent that the mandate called for, according to the California Water Board.

The governor's latest order explained that they may modify the existing restrictions later in the season, but the modifications will depend heavily on how much, or how little, rain falls over the Golden State through March.

Even if some of the regulations are altered, Californians should still expect to keep conserving water for the months to come.

While the start of the wet season has failed to deliver a significant rainstorm to California, AccuWeather Western Weather Expert Ken Clark said that there are still plenty of opportunities for rain during the winter.

"It was been drier than normal since Oct. 1, but that doesn't mean that we won't get the rain and snow," Clark said. "Sometimes with El Niño, it takes a while for the storms to get going."

Clark explained that during the winter of 2005-2006, an El Niño year, the first part of winter was drier than normal. But after Christmas, the skies opened up and it kept on raining through the rest of the winter.

Unfortunately, it may take more than one extremely wet and snowy winter to end the drought, meaning that the water regulations may stay in place longer than originally expected.

In addition to announcing the possible extension of water restrictions, Brown's new order prioritizes water projects that will help to capture rain from the upcoming storms.

Part of this includes a budget of up to $5 million to be used for permanent solutions that provide safer, cleaner and more reliable drinking water to households.

This is an important step forward for not only providing people with water during the ongoing drought, but also for droughts in the future.

Early indications suggest that while parts of central and northern California may experience occasional rain and mountain snow through the first part of December, Southern California may have to wait until closer to the middle of the month before getting any meaningful rain.