By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — If you’ve let your plants and lawn go the past few years because of the drought, there may be a greener future ahead for you.

In a major development, state water officials have lifted mandatory statewide water restrictions and turned the reins to local water districts.

Water levels in the state are higher after a wet winter and spring, and things are looking up for the state. Still, state officials are warning conservation should still be a priority.

Conservationists don’t like Dee Brewer don’t seem to mind their brown lawns either. They call it the new California gold.

But State Water Resources Control Board spokesman George Kostyrko says things are going to change.

“What we’re doing is moving away from strict conservation,” he said.

With replenished reservoirs and snowpacks, the board suspended the state’s mandatory water reduction rules. They had been set at 25 percent last April, but recently were brought lower. The main reason for Wednesday’s change was with major water savings.

“It’s phenomenal and unprecedented that almost 24 percent of the water was saved over about during a 12-month period during the time we were asking for a 25 percent mandate,” he said.

The new plan essentially allows urban water districts to set their own water restrictions. Some like the El Dorado Irrigation District and San Juan Water District took steps ahead of the state’s decision.

“We’d been receiving a 49, 50 percent reductions within our customers but they were beginning to call and ask why they had to do a mandatory when Folsom Lake was spilling,” said San Juan district general manager Shauna Lorance.

In Sacramento, water officials may consider allowing an extra watering day, but changes need to go before the city council.

Districts will still have to ensure they have enough water for three years. If the state sees a deficit in supply, customers will be asked to save again. For some, drought mode is permanent.

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