Sand- and salt-caked beachgoers, rejoice: The California Department of Parks and Recreation is lifting its two-year ban on outdoor shower use at many state beaches.
In the face of a statewide drought, officials ordered that outdoor showers be shut off indefinitely at 38 California beaches — many of them in Southern California.
That long, sticky spell ended Friday, a week after Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order to lift the state's drought emergency. Once again, beach lovers were allowed to rinse after a long day at the shore.
"Since we've turned them on, we've gotten positive responses," said Kevin Pearsall, the park superintendent for the Orange Coast District of California State Parks, which includes Huntington Beach and Bolsa Chica. "We were pleasantly surprised how enthusiastic the public has been with the showers being turned back on.
"We're happy to be making people that happy," he said, chuckling.
Pearsall said showers that were in good condition have been returned to service, but it might be awhile before some are turned back on because of disrepair.
"Some have rusted out and need to be replaced. Some need low-flow nozzles so we can still conserve water," he said. "We're hoping to have them back up before summer begins."
Craig Sap, the superintendent for the Angeles District, which includes Malibu Lagoon and Point Mugu, said the agency hasn't been able to turn any of the showers on in his region because some need to be replaced.
"Some of the heads are missing or have been vandalized. Some have mechanical problems like the valves," he said. "We hope to have some of them working before Memorial Day weekend or in the next two weeks."
Even during the drought emergency, some beaches kept their showers flowing, including Santa Monica State Beach, Will Rogers State Beach near Pacific Palisades and Dockweiler State Beach near El Segundo.
Sap said those beaches had instituted other water-saving measures, such as replacing the shower heads with low-flow nozzles.
Outdoor shower facilities were shut off at many of the state's other beaches in July 2015, at the height of the drought. State officials said the move would save up to 18 million gallons annually. The restrictions applied only to outdoor showers, not to indoor campground facilities.
The drought, which lasted from 2012 to 2016 included the driest four-year statewide precipitation and the smallest Sierra-Cascades snowpack on record. Additionally, high temperatures plagued the state between 2014 and 2016, leading to massive and unpredictable wildfires.